Court Dismisses Ex-Minister, Usman, Others’ Application Over Alleged N4.9bn Fraud

Justice Daniel O. Osiagor of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on July 13, 2021, dismissed the application filed by a former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, and others seeking to strike out the charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Nenadi is standing trial alongside Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and Chairman of the 2015 Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation over a N4.9bn fraud charge. Also charged with them are a former National Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma, and a company, Joint-Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, counsel to the first defendant, Usman, Chief Ferdinand Obu, SAN, moved an application praying the court to strike out the charges against his client on the grounds that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the charge.

In the motion dated July 6, 2021, and filed the same day, the defendant argued that the prosecution in the 17-count charge failed to specify the location within Nigeria, where the alleged offences were committed.

Obu cited the case of Belgore and Prof. Abubakar vs. EFCC, where the Supreme Court struck out the charge involving the two applicants on the grounds that the Federal High Court of Lagos lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He, therefore, prayed that the same be granted to his application. Counsel to the second defendant, N.I. Quakers, SAN, also urged the court to allow the application to stand and uphold the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Belgore and Abubakar.

Counsel to the third and fourth defendants also aligned with the submissions of the counsel to both the first and second defendants. In his reply, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to hold that the application was an abuse of court process.

He also argued that in counts 15 to 17 of the charge, Lagos was mentioned as the location of the offence.

He further submitted that, where a statute describes the mode of doing an act, then the mode must be sustained.

Oyedepo, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the application and allow the plea of the defendants to be taken in line with the amended charge. Justice Osiagor, in his ruling today, held that though the lack of the location in counts 1 to 14 of the charge makes the count defective, “ it doesn’t take away the validity of the charge, as counts 15 to 17 have a location. “

The Judge, therefore, dismissed the motion and called on defendants to take their pleas.

The matter was adjourned till October 13, 14, and 15 for re-arraignment and trial.

EFCC

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