…EFCC kicks against Ademola’s hearing of case
From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State has challenged the decision of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, transferring his criminal suit from Justice Adeniyi Ademola to Justice B. O. Quadri, in Abuja, for determination.
Lamino, his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha and two others, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in September, 2015 before Justice Ademola in Abuja on a 27 count charge bordering on the alleged abuse of office and money laundering.
However, following Justice Ademola’s arraignment and trial at an Abuja High Court over alleged bribery and corruption, the EFCC applied to the Chief Judge for the re-assignment of Lamido’s case to another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Justice Ademola and his co-defendants were recently discharged of the corruption charges there slammed against them by the federal government.
But in a response letter dated 11 April, 2017, and addressed to the CJ, the EFCC pointed out that “it will not be in the interest of justice for the case to be transferred back to Justice Ademola’s court for continuation of trial.
“This is because of the negative impressions the public may have about the outcome of the trial whether the defendants (Lamido and sons) or convicted.”
The anti-graft agency further said, “the fear of this public perception may put the judge (Justice Ademola) under intense pressure which may affect his sense of judgment.”
When the matter came up on Wednesday, Lamido through his lawyer, Chief Joe Agi (SAN), queried the re-assignment of the suit to Justice Quari on the grounds of law.
In a defendants’ written address dated 26 April, 2017, in support of a motion on notice, Agi disclosed that eighteen out of the twenty witnesses lined up by the prosecution had already testified in the suit, adding that the EFCC had applied to the CJ to reassign the matter and it was reassigned to Justice Quadri for trial to commence (denovo) afresh.
“We wrote to the Chief Judge to resign the case back to his Lordship, Honourable Justice Admola in view of the fact that 18 witnessed had been called and that by Section 98 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, transfer of cases in criminal trials are not done as a matter of course,” Agi said.
The defence lawyer countered EFCC’s position on public sentiment in the event that the suit is returned Justice Ademola’s court, saying, “the issue of public perception is not found anywhere… The law is the law.”
He urged the court to make an order that the case file be returned to the Justice Ademola.
“An order directing an accelerated hearing and determination of the charge against the defendants.”
In a five paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Femi Popoola, the defence submitted that the trial denovo (afresh) at this time would unleash hardship on the defendants.
Meanwhile, Justice Quadri adjourned the suit till May 3 for hearing.