By FESTUS AHON
UGHELLI — CONVICTED directors of defunct Mustard Seed Micro-Finance Bank Limited, Pastor Okeoghene Abrefera and Rev. Vincent Okpogo, have appealed the judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba, Delta State, which sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment on a two-count charge, each.
The court had convicted and sentenced the duo to 10 years imprisonment in addition to a fine of N2 million each on the two counts for “consenting to carrying on a banking business without a valid licence under section 2(2) and 49(1) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, Cap. B3, vol.2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
The convicts in their appeal, are arguing that the Federal High Court “erred in law, when it assumed jurisdiction over the charge and occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.
“From the totality of the documentary evidence placed before the court, there was no proof of service on the information constituting the charge being the originating process in the criminal charge.
“In the absence of any proof of service of the information, the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the charge. The mere fact that the appellants’ counsel allegedly submitted to jurisdiction is of no issue, as parties cannot, by consent, confer jurisdiction on the court where there is none, ab initio.
“The charge was preferred against the convicts in clear and flagrant violation of the express provisions of section 10 of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (Enforcement) Regulation, 2010, and other enabling laws in that regard.”