By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Full-blown hearing into the criminal allegations of fraud leveled against five top Executives of the National Gallery of Art by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) could not commence yesterday as scheduled, owing to an application by the embattled Director General of the establishment, Chief Joe Musa, asking the court to quash the entire 12-count criminal charges against him, for want of evidence.
The erstwhile DG who is currently on bail, is praying the high court to terminate his trial on the premises that the proof of evidence tendered by the EFCC in the matter, failed to establish neither a prima facie case nor a nexus linking him to the alleged crime.
The EFCC had accused him of conniving with four other executives of the parastatal to divert the sum of N1m from the coffers of the National Gallery of Art, between August 2006 and April 2009.
The other four accused persons are, Mr. Olusegun Ogunba, the Director of Finance, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, the Director of Research & Education, Mrs. Oparagu Elizabeth; the Deputy Director Administration and Mr. Chinedu Obi, the Special Assistant to the Director General.
Justice Olukayode Adegbola Adeniyi, who presided over the matter yesterday, however adjourned hearing into the matter till November 19, 2009.
This was to enable the prosecution to respond to both the application for quash as well as two other preliminary objections against the trial, equally filed by Mr. Olusegun Ogunba and Dr Kweku Tandoh, who are the 2nd and 3rd accused persons respectively.