The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court will on June 11 decide on a motion filed by the leader of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akoh, asking it to suspend his fraud trial.
Mr Dickson’s lawyer, John Ochogwu, wants the court to halt his client’s trial pending the obedience of a previous court decision, ordering the police to unseal Peace Corps headquarters in January, this year.
Mr Akoh, who was present at Tuesday’s hearing, is facing trial on allegations of fraud brought against him by the Nigeria Police Force.
Security operatives had sealed the Peace Corps office in Abuja, after arresting its commandant and 49 other staff in February 2017.
After sealing the office, the police approached the court with a request to legalise its action. But the judge, John Tsoho, in a ruling delivered in January faulted the prosecution for approaching the court after acting without regard to the rule of law.
Mr Tsoho declared the continued sealing of the office as an aberration and ordered the police to unseal the premises immediately. The police is yet to comply with that order.
In a motion heard on Tuesday and filed by Mr Ochogwu, the lawyer said the police cannot demand justice from a court of law, when they have not complied with the directives of the same court.
“I urge you most respectfully to grant this application. If you do so, it will serve as a deterrent to the executive and others that dare to undermine the powers of the court.
In a reaction to the submission of Mr Ochogwu, the prosecution lawyer, A. S. Don-Oboh said the application brought by the defence negates the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) which does not allow for a stay-of-proceedings in such a trial. He cited previous decisions of the Supreme Court to support his argument.
Responding on points of law, Mr Ochogwu said the instances given by the prosecution bordered on cases where the respondents were not in violation of court orders. He contended that since the prosecution had violated orders made by the court, it had lost the right to be heard according to the provision of the ACJA.
“We have no need of being here if the court’s orders will not be obeyed,” said Mr Ochogwu.
He added that some documents needed to prove the arguments of the defence were currently under lock.
After taking the arguments of counsel, Mr Tsoho adjourned the matter till June 11.
Following a series of allegations bordering on fraudulent practices against Mr Dickson and his security outfit, the Peace Corps of Nigeria, the Nigeria Police filed a 90-count charge of fraud against the defendant, but later amended it to 13-counts.
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