By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Determined to extricate himself from allegations that he inflated the cost of contracts awarded by the House of Representatives whilst he was the Speaker, Mr Dimeji Bankole, yesterday, flayed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for comparing the crime he allegedly committed with that of the convicted former Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Chief Bode George.
Bankole, who went before a Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, to complain about an analogy that was drawn between him and the convicted NPA boss in a written address filed against him by the prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Keyamo, maintained that “the charges are clear. The case of FRN V. Bode George is not an authority relevant to this case.”
In an application he filed yesterday, Bankole, through his lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, further averred: “With respect, the law regarding public procurement is clear. The minutes show that the accused performed no administrative functions. His presiding at the officers meeting held no criminal concomitant.
“There is no evidence that the accused performed the functions of any named officers under the Act. The court is not to strain itself in holding or connecting the accused person willy-nilly. The evidence before the court shows nothing to connect the accused with the commission of any crime under the Public Procurement Act. The absence of the combination of mensrea with the actus reus is very important.”
However, the former speaker while praying the court to quash the entire charge on the premise that the facts as disclosed in the proof of evidence did not contain the basic elements of the offences charged, also pleaded the court to disqualify the prosecuting counsel, Mr Keyamo, from the matter, describing him as an agent of witch-hunt.
Meantime, Justice Donatus Okorowo, yesterday, fixed October 17 to hear Bankole’s application as well as the response of the EFCC lawyer.