By Onozure Dania
LAGOS—FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan’s ex-Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Dr. Emmanuel Waripamo-Oweu Dudafa, yesterday, asked a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, to dismiss the amended charge filed against him on alleged N1.6 billion frauds.
Dudafa, alongside Iwejuo Joseph, is standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris over the alleged offences preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
After the prosecution closed its case, counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court of his agency’s intention to amend the charge, which was vehemently opposed by the duo of Dudafa and Joseph.
At the resumed hearing of the argument on the amended charge yesterday, Dudafa’s lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, while arguing preliminary objection to the EFCC’s amended charge, urged the court to discountenance it as it constitute a new charge which the judge lack jurisdiction to entertain, as his court is a special court made to hear part-heard matter.
Oyewole said: “Our contention is that section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, is that this court is a special court which cannot take a new charge. With the new charge the defendants have the rights to recall all the witnesses that had been called.
“And the court is to conclude part-heard matter within a reasonable time and this new charge has to start ‘denovo’ (afresh), meaning that my Lord cannot preside over new charge as the court is a special one not meant for new charges.”
Dudafa ‘s lawyer also told the court that the EFCC’s amended charge will be prejudice to his client, adding that the anti-graft agency knew that there is no way it can sustain the old charges that was why it filed the amended charge.
Similarly Joseph’s lawyer, Mr. Ige Asemudara, also urged the court to decline jurisdiction in entertaining the EFCC’s amended charge against his client. Asemudara said that the court is presently constituted and given task of concluding matters that are partly heard within a reasonable time, not to disturb the sitting of the judge at the Appeal Court.
He cited sections 474 and 396(7) of ACJA stating that the prosecution has ample opportunity to amend the charge before the judge was elevated to the Appeal Court, adding that the agency cannot bring amended charge before the court as presently constituted. Asemudara, therefore, urged the judge to decline jurisdiction on the amended charge.
Oyedepo, in his response urged the court to allow the amended charge, stating that there is no time the prosecution cannot amend charge once judgment has not been delivered.