Court suspends hearing on Nnamani corruption trial

Posted by Eric Ikhilae on 2009/01/24 | Views: |

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Court suspends hearing on Nnamani corruption trial

Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday suspended hearing in the case against former Enugu State governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani to enable both parties study last yearís decision of the Court of Appeal in a similar matter involving ex-Delta State governor James Ibori.

Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday suspended hearing in the case against former Enugu State governor, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani to enable both parties study last yearís decision of the Court of Appeal in a similar matter involving ex-Delta State governor James Ibori.

The Court of Appeal, Kaduna division had on December 19, 2008 halted Iboriís trial before a Federal High Court in the state on the ground that the lower court lacked jurisdiction on the case.

A three-justice panel comprising Justices Moshood Abdulrahman Oredola, Abdulkadir Jega, and Amina Augie (Mrs) held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lacked the powers to prosecute Ibori outside where his alleged offences were committed.

At the FHC, Lagos yesterday, Justice Tijani Abubakar elected to stop proceedings in the Nnamani case till March 6 when parties would address the court on whether or not it could continue to hear the case in view of the development in the Ibori matter.

Lawyers to both sides are expected to procure the said Appeal Court decision and study same before the next date.

Parties were to adopt their written addresses in respect of an earlier application by the ex-governor yesterday when his (Nnamani) lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN) informed the court about the development in the Ibori case.

He prayed the court to abandon the dayís business and allow them some time to procure the Appeal Court decision, study it and address the court later.

"We observed that between the last adjourned date and today, the Court of Appeal, Kaduna heard the James Ibori case and ruled on the issue of jurisdiction and said that the Federal High Court, Kaduna does not have jurisdiction over the case.

"Since it touches on jurisdiction, we feel the court should give us some time to study the judgment. The issue of jurisdiction is a live issue that could be raised anytime," Tarfa said.

Lead prosecution lawyer, Mr. Olagoke Fakunle (SAN) objected to an abrupt adjournment. He asked the court to entertain the business of the day before adjourning.

"The business of adoption today does not relate with the issue of venue. He (Tarfa) had acknowledged that he has not read the judgment.

The court should allow the business of the day. If they wish to bring that before the court later, they can do so," he said.

He added that he was yet to read the judgment too and could not comment on it. He said there were other judgments that did not support the Appeal Courtís position on the Ibori case.

Ruling, Justice Abubakar held that it was safer to allow parties study the judgment and address the court on its relevance to the present case later.

"Assuming the adoption takes place today and the court adjourns for ruling and before ruling, the judgment is found and it turns out that we have no jurisdiction. What do we do then?

"If it is the decision of the Court of Appeal and the accused are willing to be tried in a court of proper jurisdiction, it should not be seen as if the court is in a hurry to try the case. We should adjourn for you to digest the judgment and address the court on jurisdiction," he further held.

Nnamani and 11 others are being tried on a 124-count charge bordering on conspiracy, money laundering, failure to give answers to lawful enquiry and making false declaration of assets.

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