Court adjourns NBA presidents’ trial

Paul Usoro
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Paul Usoro.

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos State, on Monday adjourned the trial of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, till April 17.

The adjourned date is slated for treating the three pending applications brought before the court by counsel to the defendants.

In the application brought by Mr Usoro’s counsel, Ifedayo Adedipe, Mr Usoro is seeking for an order of the court directing the complainant to serve on him a summarised witness statement of evidence of those listed to give evidence in the matter.

The second application to be attended to at the next adjourned date was brought by the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Udomah; and Margaret Ukpe.

Their application was filed by Mike Ozekhome on their behalf and prays the court to set aside the bench warrant issued against them. The bench warrant was issued by the court at the last sitting after the accused refused to show up in court.

The third application was brought by counsel to the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Charles Mekwunye, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to proceed with the entertainment of the charge. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom, was listed in the matter as currently immune from prosecution.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had slammed a N1.4 billion money laundering charge against the NBA president and others before Justice Muslim Hassan. Mr Hassan withdrew from the matter for being a former prosecutor with the anti-graft agency.

The case was later transferred to Chuka Obiozor, another judge at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, who also recused himself from the case on personal grounds. The case was then transferred to Rilwan Aikawa who adjourned the matter on Monday.

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Mr Usoro was alleged to have conspired to receive N1.4 billion belonging to the Akwa Ibom State Government. The EFCC argues that the senior lawyer should have known he was not entitled to the money.

Mr Usoro pleads not guilty to the 10 count charge against him. He says the money he received from the Akwa Ibom government was for legal services rendered.

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