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Judge withdraws from NBA president’s criminal trial

By Innocent Anaba

JUSTICE Chuka  Obiozor of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos,  yesterday, recused himself from hearing the fraud case against President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, whose case was recently assigned to him by the Chief Judge of the court.

newly elected President of the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN
President of the Nigeria Bar Association NBA, Paul Usoro, SAN

Justice Obiozor is the second judge to withdraw from handling the case.

The NBA President, Usoro was formally arraigned before Justice Sule Hassan on December 18, 2018, on a 10 count-charge of N1.4 billion fraud.

Usoro had pleaded not guilty to the charge and he was admitted to bail in the sum of N250 million with one surety in the like sum.

Usoro is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Justice Hassan had only recently washed off his hands from the matter and returned the case file to the Chief Judge for reassignment, following calls on the judge to withdraw from the matter on the ground that he was formerly an EFCC’s legal officer.

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The matter was then reassigned to Justice Obiozor.

At the resumed hearing of the case, yesterday, before the plea of the defendant could be taken, Justice Obiozor, who wrote down something, later read it out, noting “For personal reason, I’m recusing myself from hearing this matter. I’m returning the case file to the Chief Judge of this Court for reassignment.”

Usoro is facing trial alongside Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, who is described in the charge as  being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution,” the Akwa Ibom State’s Commissioner for Finance, Accountant-General and Attorney-General, Nsikan Nkan; Mfon Udomah, Uwemedimo Nwoko and Margaret Ukpe respectively, who were said to be at large.

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