Court adjourns EFCC vs Nwaoboshi case

By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Wednesday, adjourned till Thursday, for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to decide on whether the court should continue with the  trial of the Senator representing Delta North senatorial district, Peter Nwaoboshi, as the case cannot  go on without the consent of the commission.

Peter Nwaoboshi

Trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal after the case had begun, said both parties must agree for him to have jurisdiction to continue to adjudicate on the case.

At the hearing in the matter, the prosecution told the court that it was yet to take a decision on whether the matter should go on, but asked for a short adjournment till Thursday to inform the court of its decision.

The request was granted by the court.

EFCC arraigned Nwaoboshi, Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited and Suiming Electricals on April 25 over  alleged N322million fraud charge.

Two witnesses had been called by the EFCC and they testified for the prosecution before Justice Idris was elevated to the Court of Appeal in June.

Based on a request by Nwaoboshi and the other defendants, the Court of Appeal President,  Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa granted Justice Idris a fiat to enable him conclude the case before resuming at the appellate court.

But the EFCC opposed the fiat, saying it would prefer that the case be transferred to another judge to begin afresh.

EFCC lawyer, had argued that Nwaoboshi’s case did not fall within the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, definition of “part-heard” criminal cases which an elevated judge could continue with.

But, Nwaoboshi’s lawyer,  said he was surprised that the EFCC, which always accused high profile defendants of adopting delay tactics to frustrate their trial, was the one opposing Senator Nwaoboshi’s application for a speedy trial.

He said Section 396 (7) of the ACJA was enacted to cure delays that arise from judges’ elevation, adding that EFCC ought to champion its enforcement rather than rejecting the fiat granted Justice Idris.

Ruling on Tuesday, on whether or not to continue with the case, Justice Idris emphasised that while the ACJA was designed to achieve speedy dispensation of justice in criminal cases, all parties must be on board.

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