Naira Abuse: Cubana Chief Priest, EFCC opt for plea bargain

The lawyer to businessman and socialite Pascal Okechukwu, also known as Cubana Chief Priest, yesterday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that his client and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are exploring a plea bargain agreement over his alleged abuse of the Naira trial.

The lawyer, Chikaosolu Ojukwu (SAN), informed Justice Kehinde Ogundare that the parties are exploring settlement and have applied that the matter be settled under the provisions of section 14(2) of the EFCC Act.

The anti-graft agency had arraigned Cubana Chief Priest before the court on a three-count charge of allegedly spraying and tampering with the Naira at a social event contrary to the provisions of the Central Bank Act of 2007.

An EFCC prosecutor, Mrs 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 by spraying the same for two hours.

The lawyer alleged that sometime in 2020, during a social event in Lagos, the Cubana Chief Priest tampered with funds in the denomination of N500 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 (Five Hundred Naira) 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 are 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, Buhari confirmed an ongoing discussion between the parties, but said that no decision has 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.