By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, struck out all the proceedings in relation to the trial of a former Enugu State governor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, over alleged N5.3 billion fraud.
Trial judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, struck out the proceedings at the instance of the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Kelvin Uzozie, who had earlier told the court of the intention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to file a new charge against Nnamani and his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu.
Both Nnamani and Anyaogu are being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of N5.3 billion fraud.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, yesterday, Uzozie, told the court that looking at the fact of the case, the position of the EFCC was to file a new charge with new number, against the two accused persons.
Uzozie said the decision to file a new charge against the two accused persons was based on the judgment of Justice Mohammed Yunusa delivered of July 7, 2017, on charge number FHC/L/09C/07,
The prosecutor also told the court that “as at today, there was no charge against Nnamani and his aide before the court”. He therefore, urged the court to strike out the entire proceedings before the court.
Nnamani’s lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tafa, SAN and lawyer to the second accused, Mr. Victor Obaro, did not oppose this prosecution’s application.
However, Nnamani’s lawyer, Tafa, said when the matter came up last time, they had filed an affidavit for the termination of the charge of FHC/L/09c/07, which he said had been conceded to by the prosecution.
Tafa also stated that in fairness to the prosecution, as at the time the matter was reassigned, ‘there was no case to be reassigned.’
But Uzozie, said that his request to court was that the entire proceedings before the court be set aside, to give the prosecution the liberty to file a new charge.
In his ruling, Justice Obiozor ordered “As the learned prosecutor has said, in effect, proceedings in this case will be exercise in futility, I shall order under the Act of this court, I shall expunge the entire proceedings before this court, as there was never a charge before this court. All proceedings before the court is hereby expunged and strike out.”
With the court order, it means that the bench warrant earlier issued by the court against the former governor, Nnamani, has been discharged and become null and void.
Nnamani, Anyaogu and six companies were first arraigned in 2007 for allegedly conspiring to divert about N5.3bn from the coffers of Enugu State.
The case, which had been handled by no fewer than three judges, was last year December transferred to Justice Obiozor.