- Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos has hands off trial of Senator Nwaoboshi
- The trial judge asked that the case file be reassigned to another judge
- The re-assignment of the case file followed an argument by the EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly succeeded in applying for the reassignment of its N805 million alleged fraud case against Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, a serving lawmaker.
The New Telegraph reports that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, headed by Justice Mohammed Idris, finally decided to hands off the trial of Nwaoboshi, who represents Delta north at the National Assembly.
The report said Justice Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal after the case had begun, had ruled that the prosecution and the defence must agree for him to have jurisdiction to continue to adjudicate on the case.
The report noted that the EFCC, however, maintained that at parties in a matter cannot by consent confer jurisdiction on the court where none exist.
Due to this, Justice Idris directed that the case file be taken away for reassignment to another judge.
This is even despite the fiat given to him by the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, to conclude the case.
It was learnt that the EFCC had argued that it does not satisfy the requirement of section 494 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) as a ‘part heard’ matter.
But Nwaoboshi’s lawyer, Victoria Azinge (SAN), had said his client was ready to face his trial, so that he can know his fate as soon as possible.
Ruling on this, Justice Idris agreed with the EFCC that the case does not fulfill the requirement of Section 494 of ACJA.
“The judiciary is ready, my court is ready, the defence is ready but it does not seem that the prosecution is ready to go on with this matter.
“I am ready to sit from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday next week to conclude the matter for the prosecution.
“The ACJA is clear on the issue of delays. It is to eliminate unacceptable delays,” he said on July 31, with the EFCC saying it would revert back to the court its decision.
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Nwaoboshi’s lawyer described the EFCC’s action as unfortunate. He said the stand was contrary to the spirit behind ACJA which sought speedy conclusion of criminal trials.
The report said Justice Idris later directed that the case file be taken away for reassignment to another judge.
NAIJ.com earlier the criminal trial of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator, Peter Nwaoboshi, began at the Lagos division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday, June 20, with the prosecution presenting two witnesses.
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