…slams fresh 158 count charge against them
By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJAâ€”The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it has enough evidence to jail the Senate Committee Chairman on Power, Nicholas Ugbane, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu and 29 others over their alleged involvement in N5.2billion fraud in the power sector.
The commission spoke on a day it docked all the accused persons before a Federal high court sitting in Abuja over a fresh 158-count charge on the alleged fraud.
Mr Godwin Oblah who is the lead prosecution counsel said but for the absence of one of the accused persons in the case,Â Jibo Mohammed and few corporate persons charged alongside the lawmakers, he said trial would have commenced in the case.
He told the Abuja Federal high court yesterday that he is prepared to withdraw charge against all the accused persons who are presently unavailable for trial to ensure that full blown trial commenced in the case at the next adjourned date. He said he is ready to field his star witnesses against the accused persons.
The accused persons were scheduled to be arraigned yesterday before the high court. But for the absence of Jibo Mohammed who is recuperating from gun shot wounds and few corporate persons who were absent in court yesterday, the prosecution asked for an order issuing fresh summons on them to enable them appear in court.
But the defence yesterday fired back, saying the EFCC seemed not to be ready with the trial. Dr U J O Azinge who represented one of the accused persons yesterday urged the court to strike out the entire charge filed by EFCC on the account of want of prosecution.
She argued that EFCC ought not to ask for adjournment simply because some of the corporate persons charged alongside others were absent in court since they needed not to be present.
She argued that under section 468 of the CPA, she said the prosecution can apply that a plea of not guilty be entered against them even in their absence so that trial could go on.
She said EFCC having made up its mind to discontinue trial against the injured Jibo Mohammed ought not to delay its application to withdraw charge against him so that trial of others could go on.
Another defence counsel, Mr Afam Osigwe also challenged the competence of Oblah to prosecute the case on the grounds that he had no fiat from the Attoprney-General of the Federation to prosecute the case.