- You must face trial, FG tells Dasuki]
Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar of the FCT High Court, Abuja, yesterday, refused to stop further hearing on a suit filed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC against former Minister of Aviation, Babalola Borishade and four others as prayed by the defendant’s counsel.
Borishade, his former personal assistant, Tunde Dairo, and two others are alleged to have mismanaged a N5.2 billion Aviation Safe Tower contract.
Others on trial for the alleged offence are former Managing Director of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, Rowland Iyayi; an Australian, George Eider and Avsatel Communications Ltd.
The defendants had been on trial since November 19, 2009 when they were arraigned by the EFCC on a 15-count charge of taking bribe and forging aviation contract documents.
The matter which was slated for yesterday could not go on as planned as the Attorney General of the Federation, AG, Abubakar Malami, SAN requested for a brief on the case by the EFCC since the matter had been in court for about 7 years.
Consequent upon AGF’s request, the EFCC had furnished his office with the brief of the case and the proceedings that have transpired over time regarding the matter.
Nigerian Pilot recalled that, counsel to the first defendant, Kehinde Ogunwumiju and Regina Okotie Eboh, representing the 4th and 5th defendants, had earlier prayed the court to strike out the case for lack of diligence on the part of the prosecution which was strongly opposed by Chile Okoroma, counsel to EFCC.
Ruling on the application yesterday, Justice Umar held that withdrawal from a case by a lawyer from a private firm does not constitute abandonment or lack of appearance of the prosecution.
Consequently, he ruled that the application by counsels to the defendants to foreclose or discharge the defendants was refused and ordered the prosecution to continue its case.
Thereafter, Okoroma presented PW 10, Reuben Omosigho, an operative with the Economic Governance Unit of the EFCC.
However, Ogunwumiju raised an objection saying that, the evidence of the PW 10 was already on record and needed no duplication but cross-examination.
His objection was sustained by the court. Rather than cross –examine the witness, Ogunwumiju changed tactics and prayed the court for a short adjournment, saying their application to be furnished with the court’s records was still pending.
Responding, Okoroma vehemently opposed the application arguing that, “there is no law that states that the cross-examination of a witness is dependent on the defence obtaining court records”.
However, counsel to the 4th and 5th defendants, R. Okotie Eboh argued that, “the adjournment being sought for is not ill-conceived, but necessary for us to get our facts right”.
Justice Umar adjourned to the March 7, 2016 for continuation of the matter.
You must face tril, FG tells Dasuki
Similarly, the Federal Government yesterday accused the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki of avoiding trial in order to keep “the magnitude” of his alleged wrongs against the country away from the public.
It stated this in a counter-affidavit which it filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja in opposition to an application by Dasuki seeking an order discharging him from further standing trial on charges of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms instituted against him.
The ex-NSA had predicated his application on the grounds of Federal Government’s alleged “brazen” disobedience of a series of orders of court granting him bail.
He urged the court in his application to discharge him and prohibit the Federal Government from further prosecuting him on the grounds that his re-arrest by the DSS was tantamount to Federal Government’s alleged act of assault on the court which had released him on bail.
The Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is prosecuting Dasuki before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja on four counts of money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
In its counter-affidavit to Dasuki’s application filed by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi, SAN, the Federal Government denied the allegation of disobeying the order granting bail to Dasuki with respect to the case.
A lawyer in Okpeseyi’s firm, Emmanuel Ikpebe, who deposed to the counter-affidavit, stated that while the prosecution was ready to proceed with the case, Dasuki was allegedly reluctant to go on in order to keep the details of his wrongs from the public.
The counter-affidavit stated, “That the respondent (FG) is willing and ready to proceed to prove the case with the order of this court at the last hearing on January 20, 2016 fixing the case for definite hearing.
“That I know that the applicant is not interested in facing his trial before this court.
“That I also know that the applicant is averse to general public knowing the magnitude of the wrongs against the Nigeria state he has been charged with in court.”
The prosecution insisted that Dasuki was re-arrested because of “multiple criminal cases” pending against him in different courts.
On Tuesday, at the resumed hearing before Justice Ademola at the Federal High Court, both the prosecution and the defence disagreed on the alleged violation of the order granting bail to Dasuki.
Dasuki maintained a blank facial expression while seated in the dock throughout the Tuesday’s proceedings.
His lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN insisted before Justice Ademola that the Federal Government had violated the court’s order granting bail to his client.
He said his application sought to prohibit the Federal Government from continuing to prosecute his client, adding that by further indulging the prosecution, which was allegedly in contempt of the orders of the court, to go on with the case, would amount to “mockery of the judiciary” and “an assault on the rule of law.”
He asked for an adjournment to file a response to the prosecution’s reply to his client’s application.
But in response, prosecuting counsel, Okpeseyi, opposed the application for adjournment as he also denied the allegation of disobeying court order.
But in his ruling, Justice Ademola granted the application for adjournment and directed that the defence should file its final reply within seven days.
The judge adjourned to March 3 and directed that the prosecution must produce the ex-NSA in court at the next sitting and subsequent ones.
The judge also said he would deliver a pending ruling on an application by the prosecution for witness protection on March 3, 2016.
Oduah, Kuku lose bid to stop arrest
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has concluded plans to quiz former minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah and former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Amnesty Programme, Chief Kingsley Kuku over allegations bordering on fraud, money laundering, theft and abuse of office.
A highly placed source at the commission yesterday confirmed to Nigerian Pilot that both Oduah and Kuku will be invited for some interactions based on petitions hanging on them.
According to the source, the former minister and Kuku had dragged the EFCC and other security agencies to court seeking an order to restrain them from arresting and prosecuting them but the matter was thrown out yesterday before a federal High Court in Lagos.
He said that the EFCC was waiting for the verdict of the court before taking the necessary action.
A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday dismissed a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, against the Attorney General of the Federation and three others.
Justice Okon Abang, who dismissed Oduah’s suit for want of jurisdiction yesterday, ordered her to pay a cost of N15,000 to the AGF.
Oduah had filed the suit in August last year praying the court to restrain agencies of the federal government from questioning or prosecuting her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at a cost of N255million by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, under her watch as the Aviation Minister in 2013.
In her suit, Oduah claimed to have already been probed and exonerated by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and urged Justice Abang to declare that any further probe would amount to violating her fundamental rights.
The respondents in the suit were the AGF, the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Inspector General of Police.
Oduah alleged that the ruling All Progressives Congress intended to use the respondents to persecute her, being a prominent member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
She claimed that the federal government had perfected plans to try prominent members of the PDP on trumped up charges in a special Lagos State High Court, so as to turn the country into a one-party state.
She begged the court to restrain the respondents from unleashing repression against her.
But the EFCC denied doing the bidding of the APC, claiming that it was independent.
It furnished the court with a petition, dated October 18, 2013 written by a lawyer from the chambers of Mr. Femi Falana, SAN calling for Oduah’s investigation.
The EFCC disclosed that the said petition was captioned, ‘Request for Investigation of Economic and Financial Crimes of the sum of N255m by Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah’.
The EFCC urged the court to dismiss Oduah’s suit.
But in his judgment, Justice Abang dismissed the EFCC’s objection for not complying with Order 8 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure.
“The EFCC did not file any opposition in line with the law,” Justice Abang held.
The judge, however, upheld the preliminary objection filed by the AGF, who challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Lagos to entertain Oduah’s suit.
Counsel for the AGF, T.A. Gazali, had contended that since the rights violation that Oduah alleged did not happen in Lagos, it would be a violation of Section 46(1) of the constitution and Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure to entertain the case in Lagos.
“From the whole of the applicant’s averments, there is nowhere she mentioned that her right was or is being breached by the respondents within the territorial space called Lagos.
“There is nothing to show that the applicant was invited, arrested or detained in Lagos by any of the respondents in the suit.
“The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos cannot assume jurisdiction to entertain alleged breach of fundamental rights that did not take place in Lagos State,” Gazali had argued.
Justice Abang upheld Gazali’s argument and dismissed Oduah’s case.
The judge also held that if the federal government had any valid reason to arraign Oduah in a Lagos State High Court as she alleged, it would not amount to a violation of her right.
Meanwhile, in another judgment, Justice Abang also refused a prayer to stop the EFCC and the Department of State Services from arresting and probing a former Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Niger Delta Affairs and the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku.
The judge dismissed Kuku’s suit for lacking in merit, but restrained the respondents from detaining him beyond 48 hours in contravention of Section 35(4)(5) of the Constitution.