The absence of a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday stalled the trial of Mrs. Beauty Apere for money laundering at the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The accused is the wife to Embelakpo Apere, a former aide on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to former Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.

The EFCC had on October 8, 2021, arraigned Mr. Embelakpo Apere and his wife, Beauty, before a Federal High Court in Yenagoa.

The duo were arraigned for money laundering allegedly carried out in 2015.

When the case came up for commencement of trial, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Mustapha Iko, told the court that the EFCC was not ready to proceed with the trial as its star witness was not released by the commission’s headquarters.

He explained that the case was originally slated for October 19, 2021, which fell on a public holiday, and when the Port Harcourt zonal office of EFCC, in an internal memo, requested for the release of the witness, it was not granted as the date turned out to be a public holiday.

He appealed to the court to adjourn the case to enable the anti-graft agency produce the witness to give evidence to substantiate the charges filed against the defendant.

However, the defence counsel, Mr. Andrew Arthur, noted that the adjournment being sought had no merit and the delays were not in the interest of his client whose accounts were frozen and passport seized five years ago.

He said although he was not opposed to the adjournment sought by EFCC, the court should take steps to expeditiously dispense justice as his client has been stopped from travelling to see her children schooling in the United Kingdom for five years.

The trial Judge, Justice I H Ndahen, adjourned until November 3, 2021, for continuation of the trial.

According to the charges, Beauty Apere received various amounts equivalent to about N200 million in dollars and pounds sterling between May 2015 and April 27, 2016.

The EFCC alleged that the funds were proceeds of unlawful acts, punishable under the Money Laundering prohibition Act.

The commission also charged her for forgery of medical and birth certificates which purportedly emanated from the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.

The court had on October 8, 2021, granted her bail to the tune of N10 million and two sureties, who must have landed property in Yenagoa.

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