Naira Abuse: Anti-graft Agency, Nigerian Socialite Opt For Out-of-Court Settlement

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and celebrity barman, Pascal Okechukwu, popularly known as Cubana Chief Priest, have agreed to settle the Naira abuse charge slammed against the socialite out of court.

This was disclosed at the resumption of proceedings before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday.

At the resumption of proceedings, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari appeared for the prosecution while Chikaosolu Ojukwu (SAN) announced an appearance for the defendant.

The defence counsel informed Justice Kehinde Ogundare that the parties were exploring settlement and had applied that the matter be settled pursuant to the provisions of Section 14(2) of the EFCC Act.

Recall that the Federal High Court had on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, granted Cubana Chief Priest N10m bail with two sureties in like sum having pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him by the anti-graft Commission.

He was arraigned before Justice Ogundare on a three-count charge bordering on abuse of Naira, spraying and tampering with the local currency at a social event contrary to the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007.

The EFCC prosecutor, Bilikisu Buhari, had told the court that the defendant committed the alleged offence on February 13, 2024, at Eko Hotel while dancing during a social event.

Buhari also told the court that the defendant, while dancing during a social event, tampered with funds in the denomination of N500 notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by spraying the same for two hours.

The lawyer alleged that sometime in 2020, during a social event in Lagos, Cubana Chief Priest tampered with funds in the denomination of N500 notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, spraying the same for two hours.

She also said that in January 2024, in Lagos State, during a social event, the defendant tampered with funds in the denomination of N500 notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying the same.

The prosecutor maintained that the offence committed is contrary to and punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act 2007.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Ojukwu informed the court that the parties were exploring an out-of-court settlement.

The lawyer said that if the prosecution confirms the position as valid, he will be willing to apply for a withdrawal of the defendant’s preliminary objection and allow for a reconciliation.

In her response, Mrs Buhari confirmed an ongoing discussion between both parties but said that no decision had been made.

The defence counsel then applied to withdraw the preliminary objection, challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Based on the development, Justice Ogundare adjourned the case to June 5 for a report of the settlement.