Saturday, April 19, 2014

Abuja court rules former police boss, Ehindero, ‘must’ face corruption trial

Published:

Mike Ozekhome is consel to ex Nigeria Police Force boss, Sunday Ehindero

Former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero to face trial for allegedly embezzling money meant for the police force.

 

An Abuja High Court judge has told former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero, that he has a case to answer and should face prosecution for allegedly embezzling N16 million, meant for the police, while he was in office.

The judge, Mudashiru Oniyangi, dismissed an application filed by Mr. Ehindero seeking to quash the charges against him.

The former police boss, in his application, had challenged the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr. Ehindero is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, ICPC.

The commission says Mr. Ehindero, and a Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget at the Force Headquarters, John Obaniyi, connived to embezzle the funds.

While Mr. Ehindero has been retired from the police, Mr. Obaniyi has been suspended.

Both men had filed separate notices of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court as well as the leave granted the ICPC to file charges against them. They had prayed the court to quash the six-count charge preferred against them by the anti-graft agency.

Mr. Oniyangi dismissed their applications.

The embezzled funds

Bayelsa State Government donated N567 million to the Nigeria Police for the purchase of arms, ammunition and riot control equipment, during the tenure of Mr. Ehindero as police chief.

The money, the ICPC says, was deposited in a bank from which it yielded an interest of N16 million. Investigations by the commission revealed that the interest disappeared between Mr. Ehindero and Mr. Obaniyi.

After its investigations revealed that both men embezzled the money, the commission went ahead to file a six-count charge against the two men.

Not wanting to respond to the charges, the two men through their lawyers wanted the charges dismissed.

Delivering his ruling, Mr. Oniyangi held that the anti-graft agency had, by the proof of evidence before the court, successfully established a prima facie evidence against the accused to warrant their being put to trial.

“Prima facie evidence has been shown by the ICPC through the exhibits and statements of witness to proceed with trial,” he said.

Mr. Oniyangi also held that the ICPC is competent to prosecute the accused, adding that the ICPC Act 2000, under which the duo were charged, was a valid law. He said that the submission of Mr. Ehindero’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, that the ICPC Act 2000 is a non existing law, is not tenable.

The judge held that the offences the suspects were charged with, were known to law, stressing that it is not correct to say the ICPC is charging the accused under non-existent law. He said the commission is empowered to prosecute offences which fall under the penal and criminal codes.

Mr. Oniyangi dismissed the objections and subsequently ordered that Mr. Ehindero and Mr. Obaniyi be arraigned.

We are not guilty

After the ruling, Mr. Oniyangi read the charges to the accused persons.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge refused to grant bail to Mr. Ehindero and Mr. Obaniyi on liberal terms as made in an oral application by their lawyer. He granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each and one surety in like sum.

Mr. Oniyangi ordered that the surety must swear to an affidavit of means. He also said the accused persons should be detained in prison if they failed to meet the bail conditions.

The accused face a seven-year jail term if found guilty.

The case has been adjourned to November 12 for accelerated hearing.

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