By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
abuja—The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in the Gudu District, Abuja yesterday, May 10, 2017) turned down an attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to stall the bail application of the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed.
Talba remanded him in prison, pending ruling on the bail application tomorrow. That was sequel to a six-count charge slammed on the former minister over alleged gratification, abuse of office and conspiracy. The former minister pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Then entered the legal fireworks when prosecution counsel, Prince Ben Ikani shocked the capacity-filled court house as he made frantic efforts to stop the court from hearing the application for bail even before it could be moved and argued by the former minister’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN).
Ikani had asked the court to adjourn the hearing of the bail application to a further date, saying that he needed more time to respond to the issues raised therein.
But Uche would not take any of that as he vehemently opposed the application for adjournment and urged the court to proceed with the hearing of the motion. Wondering why the EFCC was shying away from addressing the matter, he argued that the issues raised in the bail application were within the knowledge of the prosecution as they form the subject matter of the charge which had not changed since last year.
In his ruling, Justice Abubakar Talba rejected the EFCC’s application for an adjournment on the ground that the prosecution did not place sufficient materials before the court to enable it exercise its discretion in its favour.
He cited a plethora of case law to hold that adjournments are discretionary powers of the court.
While moving the bail application which was brought under section 35(1) & (4) and 36 (5) and (6) of the 1999 constitution and section 158, 162, 163 & 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Uche had urged the court to release his client on bail pending his trial.