The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday chided the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over its conduct in the prosecution of former Interior Minister, Abba Moro, describing it as “sloppy prosecution.”
Mr. Moro is being prosecuted alongside a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia, and a Deputy Director in the ministry, F. O. Alayebami, over alleged N676 million recruitment fraud.
Others being tried with Mr. Moro are one Mahmood Ahmadu, who is at large, and Drexel Tech Nigeria Limited, the firm that handled the Nigerian Immigration Service, (NIS) recruitment in 2014.
The judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, criticised the anti-graft agency over its failure to produce the fourth prosecution witness in court for continuation of trial.
“This is your case and you have to arrange it in such a way as to avoid such occurrences. Your reasons sound a little sloppy with due respect.
“If I strike out this case for want of diligent prosecution, a lot of noise would be made by people who were not in court.
“We have to stop this nonsense and let it not repeat itself, you have to be ready for trial at the next adjourned date or else I will take the necessary action.”
The prosecuting counsel, Elizabeth Alabi, who held brief for Aliu Yusuf, informed the court, when the matter was called, that the witness, a bank official based in Lagos, could not be communicated with during the Sallah break.
Ms. Alabi said that as a result of the prosecution’s inability to reach the witness, he could not be prepared to give his testimony.
She said that the witness was on subpoena and prayed the court for an adjournment.
“My lord, the fourth prosecution witness is not in court. He is a subpoenaed witness and we were unable to hold a pre-trial session due to the two days public holiday, we were unable to communicate with him.
“The witness is a banker and resides in Lagos. In the circumstances, we shall be asking for an adjournment to enable us bring our witness to court.”
Akinlolu Kehinde, Mr. Moro’s lawyer, expressed his dissatisfaction over the failure of the prosecution to bring the witness to court.
Mr. Kehinde opposed the application for adjournment and urged the court to compel the prosecution to sign an undertaken to have its witness in court on the next adjourned date.
Chris Uche, counsel to Daniel-Nwobia maintained that when the prosecution failed to reach the witness in Lagos, other witnesses in the matter should have been prepared to attend the day’s proceedings.
Similarly, S. I. Ameh, another defence counsel, argued that a subpoena was not just a document but an authority issued by the court.
He held that since the subpoenaed witness disobeyed the order, the legal thing to do was to teach the witness a legal lesson by ordering for a warrant to be issued on him.
The matter was adjourned until October 4.