Four men appeared before the Foreign Exchanges Tribunal in Lags on Monday (29 August) charged with illegal foreign currency dealings involving well over half a million dollars.
Four men appeared before the Foreign Exchanges Tribunal in Lags on Monday (29 August) charged with illegal foreign currency dealings involving well over half a million dollars. One defendant, a Nigerian, Dr. John Sodipo, was formerly a medical consultant with the Federal Government. He was alleged, between 1975 and 1977, to have paid $680,150 (GBP395,479) into foreign bank accounts held by individuals and companies. Altogether he faced nine charges. Two men charged with him on some of these counts were a Briton, Nigel Collingwood Turner and an Italian, Umberto Carnazzi. The fourth man, Peter Young Li, a Chinese, was accused of exchanging $120,000 (GBP68,000).
SYNOPSIS: The trial was held in the Lagos High Court. Charges were brought under the Exchange Control (Anti-sabotage) Decree, passed earlier this year.
A large crowd had gathered to watch the prisoners arrive. The government newspaper, New Nigerian, said in mid-August that more than 200 Nigerian and foreign residents had been arrested for illegal currency deals involving about one billion pounds sterling (1.72 billion dollars). Quoting well-informed sources, the newspaper added that among those arrested were businessmen, senior police officers and former politicians. The government called the deals deliberate economic sabotage.
This truck contained Nigel Turner, Dr. Sodipo and Peter Li. The currency swindles decree, back-dated to mid-1975, provides for five years jail without option of a fine, as well as heavy fines. All four defendants denied the charges against them.
The special currency court, chaired by Mr. Justice J.O. Orojo, held its inaugural sitting a short time before the trial began on 29 August. Mr. Justice Orojo said the tribunal would follow the procedure of ordinary criminal trials unless the decree was amended. He said it would brook no delays in the form of adjournments. Dr. Sodipo, Nigel Turner, Umberto Carnazzi and Peter Li were on the first list of accused persons, which contained 17 defendants.