By Innocent ANABA
The Federal Government has challenged the application by a Lagos-based lawyer, Emmanuel Achukwu. to quash the charge preferred against him.
Achukwu is standing trial for defrauding foreigners of about N314 million.
GovernmentÂ had asked the court to dismiss the application for the quashing of the charge on the ground that the accused is barred from raising any objection or asking the court to quashÂ the charge having entered a plea ofÂ â€˜not guiltyâ€™.
Government, in its counter-affidavit to the application by the accused, hadÂ argued that there was prima facie case against the accused as contained in the proof of evidence and that the matter had passed the stage, where the issue of prima facie should form the basis of the challenge of jurisdiction.
The prosecution argued that section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Acts, CPA, only allows an accused right to objection before pleas are taken, if it does appears to him there was defect on the charge preferred against him, but that in the instant case, the accused had already taken his plea and therefore section 167 cannot suffice.
But the accused person argued that the proof of evidence by the prosecution did not discloseÂ any prima facie case against him to warrant his standingÂ to trial on the matter.
The accused, who was formally facing a four- count criminal charge had the charge increased to 15 after the Attorney General of the Federation became directly involved. In the amended charge, Achukwu is charged with fraud, forgery and alteration, deemed as inimical to Federal Governmentâ€™s foreign investment drive.
Achukwu was accused among others of swindling two Belgian firms, ArkVille and Marbach Global Trading Company of about N314 million.