A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday said it would on Friday hear the defence of a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, in the case of N3. 2billion fraud preferred against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Kalu together with his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and a Company, Slok Nigeria Ltd in a 34-count charge, bordering on N3.2 billion fraud.
They had each pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.
At Thursday’s proceedings, the defence counsel had urged the court for a stay of proceedings, pending the determination of appeals filed at the Court of Appeal, on jurisdictional issues.
Defence argued that the grounds of appeal question the jurisdiction of the trial court, to continue with the hearing of the case, following the elevation of the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to the Court of Appeal.
The defence argued that Order 4 Rules 10 and 11 of the Court of Appeal Rules is superior to the provisions of Section 396 (7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, which permits the judge to still sit as a High Court judge.
The defence, therefore, urged the court to stay proceedings.
Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), expressed opposition to defence’s request for a stay of proceedings in the matter.
Jacobs argued that the points raised by defence lawyers were no longer live issues, as they had been overtaken by the advent of ACJA.
He said that Section 306 of the ACJA frowns at any application for stay of proceedings in criminal matters and urged the court to refuse the application as it is no longer permissible under the law.
In a Bench ruling, Justice Idris declined the request to stay further proceedings in the case, on the grounds that it is in conflict with the provisions of the law.
“The application is in conflict with the law; trial is being conducted under the ACJA, which requires day-to-day proceedings.
He said that learned counsel could proceed to the Appellate Court for hearing of their application for stay, but ordered the accused to begin their defence.
Idris, thus adjourned the case until Sept. 21, for continuation of trial.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.
Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of a First Inland Bank, now FCMB, the sum of N200 million.
The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia Government.
In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig. Ltd) and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account N200 million, on behalf of the first accused.
In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts, which funds were said to belong to the Abia Government.
Cumulatively, in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N3.2 billion from the state government’s treasury, during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
It also contravenes the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995, as amended by the amendment Act No.9 of 2002, and Section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.
2019 ELECTIONS: “PDP IS BROKE AND HUNGRY” – AMAECHI
The Director General, President Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo 2019 Campaign Council, Rotimi Amaechi has said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP is broke and hungry.
Amaechi, a former Governor of Rivers State, spoke in Bauchi at a political rally organised to receive 18 prominent PDP members in the state who had defected to the APC, Guardian reports.
“They [PDP] are broke; they are hungry and want to come back to steal.
“Because they are broke, they are looking for cheap means of fund and we look at them when they say you are hungry.
“They have easily forgotten that they stole $2 billion US Dollars to prosecute 2015 election but we won.”
Amaechi, who is the Minister of Transportation, added,
”We listen to our colleagues at the other divide and say that you are hungry because they stole all the money meant for you.
“We want to assure you that we will not fail you and will never fail you. Bauchi is our traditional state we come to rest not to campaign.
“I was here in 2015 and saw what politicians called mammoth crowd, that is crowd that cannot be counted.”
MC Oluomo May Be Flown Abroad After Being Stab In The Neck
A leader of the National Union of Transport Workers, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, may be flown abroad for further treatment, The PUNCH has learnt.
A close aide of the union leader, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Thursday, said MC Oluomo would travel any time soon as plans had been concluded for his treatment by a specialist in the United States where he is a citizen.
This is just as our correspondent gathered that no fewer than three police vans were keeping guard at the hospital – Eko Hospital – where the patient is being treated.
Politicians of different calibre were said to have visited the hospital, as security operatives screen everyone going in to see him.
MC Oluomo was among the people injured at the inauguration of the All Progressives Congress campaign at the Sky Power Ground, Ikeja, on Tuesday.
Three journalists also sustained gunshot injuries.
Rival factions of the NURTW had clashed at the event, and MC Oluomo was allegedly stabbed in the neck with a knife.
The aide said, “He was stabbed in the neck and by the side with what they call makanje (poisoned knife). He is a citizen of the United States, so there cannot be any problem with his medical treatment abroad. In fact, he will be flown out in a few days for better medical care. Contrary to what they are saying, Baba (MC Oluomo) is not dead.”
A source at the hospital said, “Top politicians have been coming to see him. The level of security is high. Three police vans are here.”
The Chairman of the NURTW in Lagos state, Tajudeen Agbede, could not be reached as his mobile phone was switched off.
The spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Chike Oti, said, “A total 16 suspects have now been arrested in connection with the clash. The police are not aware of any treatment abroad; such is a private arrangement. It has nothing to do with us.”
[Photos] Britain Set To Return LOOTED BENIN BRONZES To Nigeria… After Over 100 Years
Some of the bronzes stolen by British soldiers from the Benin empire over 100 years will now be returned to Nigeria. Under certain conditions, CNN reports.
According to CNN, the Benin Dialogue Group (BDG), composed of representatives of various European museums, the Benin Royal Court, the Edo State Government and the National Commission of Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, reached an agreement in October to “The most famous pieces “return to Nigeria within three years for an exhibition at the new Benin Royal Museum in Edo State.
The return of the artifacts depends on the completion of the Royal Museum of Benin, whose designs are being completed, according to a spokesman for Governor Godwin Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie.
“We are grateful to be taking these steps, but we hope these are just the first steps. If you have stolen property, you must return it, “said Osagie.
Osagie also called for more pressure on European governments to return plundered colonial artefacts.
A spokesman for the British Museum said, according to CNN:
“The main agenda item (at the October meeting) was how partners can work together to set up a museum in Benin City with a rotation of Benin artworks from a consortium of European museums.
The museums present have all agreed to provide changing artefacts to the Royal Museum in Benin, to give advice on the design of buildings and exhibitions when needed, and to collaborate with the Nigerian partners in developing training, funding and legal frameworks new planned museum.
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