Tony Osauzo, Benin
A Federal High in Benin City, has threatened to revoke the bail granted to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Chief Dan Orbih and three others if they employ antics to delay commencement of their trial in the alleged N700 million money laundering case brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The presiding Judge, Justice M . G Umar, issued the threat Thursday after listening to arguments of defendants seeking a six-month adjournment because of ill health of Mr. Efe Anthony who is one of the defendants in the case.
Mr Anthony had asked for the long adjournment till June for him to be able to stand for trial. He reminded the court that they have always been present and drew attention to three consecutive times they were in court and the court did not sit.
Lead counsel to four defendants in the suit; Mr. Kingsley Obamojie, Professor Osas Izebhiuwa and Mr. Paschal Ogbome, pleaded with the court to grant the application as Anthony needed to be a bit healthy to appear in court for his defence.
Ugbome urged the court to be fair to all parties and pointed out that whereas it was inevitable for humans to be indispensable, they had actually strived very hard to ensure that the hearing commenced in earnest .
But countering the argument, the prosecution counsel, Mr. Peters Aso, said the defendants were unreasonable in their application for six months adjournment, adding that the language of the application attempted to frustrate the prosecution through unwarranted delay .
Justice Umar, however, adjourned sitting to March 2 for hearing and stressed that he would not tolerate any form of delay in the case.
Recall that Pastor Ize-Iyamu and others were arraigned on an eight-count charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering to the tune of N700 million, an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended which is punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants were arraigned for receiving the amount prior to the 2015 general elections, from former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Other defendants in the case are former Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Imasuen, a former member representing Esan South East and Esan North East federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Tony Azigbemi, and Efe Erimuoghae Anthony.