The lawyer for the former Chairman of the House Ad hoc Committee investigating the fuel subsidy Regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan, and the Secretary of the Committee, Boniface Emenalo, has filed preliminary objections challenging the jurisdiction of an Abuja High Court to hear the case against his clients, praying the court to drop the charges for non-respect of procedure.
But the prosecution countered that the court should dismiss the application to strike saying it was delaying tactics and an abuse of process. A ruling on the preliminary objections has been set for May 2.
The two lawmakers have been charged with receiving $ 620,000 from business magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, to remove his company, Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd from the list of companies involved in the fuel subsidy scam in a sting operation involving security agents. Hon Lawan had repeatedly denied the accusations, saying he collected the alleged bribe as evidence to expose Otedola’s attempts to influence the committee’s report.
Arraigned before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, the accused pleaded not guilty and posted bail. When the trial resumed yesterday in Abuja, Counsel for the defendants, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), said the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against his clients; therefore, in granting the application for leave to prefer charges, the court acted ultra vires because the prosecution had not availed itself of due process, necessary for the judge to exercise his discretion to grant the application.
Tarfa prayed the court to drop the charges against his clients, arguing that the legal basis of the case was faulty. According to him, the prosecutor failed to comply with the provisions of section155 (1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code which required that statements of witnesses be attached to the application to prefer charges. By acting ultra vires, Tarfa averred, the trial judge raised fundamental questions about court’s own jurisdiction to hear the case.
But the prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), dismissed the application of the defence as frivolous and a time wasting tactic, amounting to an abuse of the court process. Citing precedence from the Supreme Court, Awomolo argued that the non-attachment of witnesses’ statement did not vitiate the legality of the charges.
In line with starre decisis, Awomolo cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of the federal government vs Adolphos Wabara to support his argument that the leave granted for the trial to commence was proper.
After listening to the oral arguments Justice Oniyangi said he would deliver a ruling on May 2.
Source: Huhu Online