The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the National Assembly from continuing the trial of a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, over an alleged diversion of N1 trillion.
This came as the Code of Conduct Tribunal has ruled that it has jurisdiction to entertain charges of 13-counts of false asset declaration brought against Nigeria Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
The former EFCC boss was invited by the Senate to account for the fund seized from some public office holders, but rather than honour the calls of the lawmakers, he ran to the court to stop his trial.
In a motion exparte dated March 7, Lamorde, through his lawyer, Festus Keyamo, prayed the court to stop the Senate from issuing a warrant of arrest on his client pending the hearing and determination of the suit before the court.
The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, after listening to the motion, ordered that, “That a limited order on injunction is hereby granted to restrain the defendants pending when they are heard on the reply to the plaintiff’s motion on notice.
“That the plaintiff’s counsel is hereby directed to obtain a certified true copy of the order in this ruling and shall cause same to be served on the Inspector-General of Police who shall, on the authority of this, refrain to give any effect to any such warrant, which the defendants may have issued against the plaintiff on the simple judicial principle of lis pendens.”
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions had, on the strength of a petition received against Lamorde forwarded by one Mr. George Uboh, bearing an accusation of over N1 trillion fraud in the agency, invited both the petitioner and Lamorde to appear before it through separate letters.
The fraud reportedly carried out by Larmode was said to have dated back to his days as the Director of Operations of the EFCC between 2003 and 2007, as well as an acting chairman of the commission between June 2007 and May 2008.
Uboh, Chief Executive Officer of Panic Alert Security Systems, a security firm, in his petition dated July 31, 2015, accused Lamorde of some specific instances of under-remittance of funds and making secret of recovered loots from criminal suspects.
He told the Senate that he would make available “overwhelming evidence” to back his claims against Lamorde.
Uboh also claimed that the EFCC had not accounted for “offshore recoveries” and that “over half of the assets seized from suspects are not reflecting in EFCC exhibit records.”
Meanwhile the Code of Conduct Tribunal has ruled that it has jurisdiction to entertain charges of 13-counts of false asset declaration brought against Nigeria Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
In his ruling, Justice Danladi Umar cited relevant sections of the constitution empowering the Tribunal to hear matters of such nature, stating that the principle of fair hearing had been exhaustively applied to both parties, hence, Defence Counsel, Kanu Agabi’s motion on the question of jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, despite Supreme Court’s ruling on the same matter was unnecessary.
Justice Danladi further pounded his reasons which knocked out Agabi’s argument that the investigation report that Saraki was being charged for was both carried out by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Federal Ministry of Justice and in such a situation, the Attorney General of the Federation could initiate proceedings.
Invoking section 174 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria, Justice Danladi reminded both Counsels that the Attorney General of the Federation who is the Chief law officer has powers to take over criminal proceeding against anyone, thus, if such was was to be applied in this circumstance, the federal government has not erred in law in Saraki’s trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Citing section 3 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and other extant laws, Danladi opined that it was an affront on the nation that a suspect seeks to evade Justice when the issues bothers on corruption and abuse of office.
He noted that Code of Conduct Tribunal is a special court, a creation of the constitution itself exclusively to try matters of corruption in public offices, and so the motion has been quashed and struck out.
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