Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
The Federal High Court, sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, on Wednesday, ordered the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to produce the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Sani Danladi, in court on January 15, 2019.
Danladi, a former acting Governor of Taraba State, is facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and violation of financial regulations preferred against him and two others Sen. Joel Ikenya and Mark Useni accused of collecting the sum of N450 million from former President Goodluck Jonathan to prosecute the 2015 election in the state.
Justice Steven Pam gave the order after hearing arguments from the prosecution and counsels to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants.
In his ruling, Justice Pam asked Prosecution Counsel, Israel Akande, representing the EFCC to bring the 3rd Defendant and the governorship candidate of the APC, Alh. Sani Abubakar Danladi, to court on January 15, failure of which the court will discharge the 1st and 2nd accused persons.
“This court can only assume jurisdiction when the EFCC bring all the accused persons before the court.
“The court hereby, reserve ruling on the application challenging the jurisdiction of this honourable court to entertain the case, pending the arraignment of all the accused persons.
“The matter is now adjourned to the 15th January 2019 to enable the prosecution Counsel produce the 3rd Defendant in court,” he ruled.
In an interview with journalists after the court sitting, Counsel to the 1st defendant (Sen. Joel Ikenya), Barr. Festus Idepefo said EFCC could not hold his client, Sen. Joel Ikenya, to ransom over their failure to produce the 3rd defendant in court.
Citing section 123, 124, 221 of the criminal Act, counsel to the 3rd defendant Yakubu Maikasuwa Esq urged the court to compel the prosecution to bring the defendant in court, saying the court cannot assume jurisdiction over his matter, if all the accused are not brought before the court.
Our correspondent reports that Sen. Joel Ikenya and Mark Useni were in court while, Sani Danladi was represented by his Counsel, Yakubu Maikasuwa.
Meanwhile, outside the court, protesting youths barricaded the gate of the court with placards demanding that the federal government through the EFCC to stop shielding Sani Danladi and allow him to face trial.
Leader of the protesters Mr. Christopher John said Sani Danladi was not above the law and must appear before the court to face trial.
Some of the placards read, ‘EFCC is a political party,’ ‘Court save Taraba’, ‘Sani Must Face trial among others.
Daily Sun recall that Danladi’s absent at the previous sitting stalled the proceeding on the case and attracted wide spread condemnation and allegations that the EFCC was deliberately shielding him from facing trial.