The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Adamu Abdul-Kafarati, has transferred the criminal trial of the former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, to a new judge following a petition against the trial judge by the prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC, in a petition dated May 21, 2019, and signed by its chairman, Ibrahim Magu, sought the transfer of the case away from the trial judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on the grounds that it had “lost confidence” in her.
The case has now been transferred to Chukwujekwu Aneke.
Mr Abdul-Kafarati’s response conveying the transfer was contained in a letter dated May 23, 2019.
“I refer to the petition of EFCC on this case and your Lordship’s comments thereto,” read the letter.
“It is apparent that the prosecution has lost confidence in the judge trying this case and justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done, I hereby transfer this case to Hon. Justice C. J. Aneke for hearing.”
The transfer came following a heated exchange in open court during the last proceedings between Judge Olatoregun and Rotimi Jacobs, a senior advocate of Nigeria and counsel to the EFCC.
“Mr Jacobs, you dare not, you are not competent to look into my ruling, to evaluate my ruling, you are totally incompetent, whether you are a Senior Advocate or not,” an angry Mrs Olatoregun lashed out at the EFCC lawyer after the latter made comments she deemed critical of her ruling.
“You can only go on appeal, Mr Jacobs. Your mode of advocacy, I do not understand it, it looks like what do they call it? Jankara market.
“You stand here to re-evaluate my ruling, you are incompetent to do that. You do not stand there with impetus and re-evaluate my ruling. I have ruled, relying on two sections of the Evidence Act, if you have an objection, you go on appeal.
“You have no competence, carrying your wig with arrogance and we have a lot of young lawyers here. What are you teaching them? You stand up to a judge, re-evaluating the ruling of a judge. It will not happen in my court. You re-examine your witness; if you are not re-examining, then close your case.”
The next day, the EFCC petitioned Mr Abdul-Kafarati requesting for another judge to take over the case.
Mr Fayose, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, is facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering instituted by the EFCC.
He was charged alongside a company, Spotless Investment Limited and arraigned in October last year.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N50 million with one surety in like sum.
The trial, which began in November 2018, enjoyed accelerated hearing with the prosecution calling 13 of its 15 witnesses before the transfer to another judge.
With the transfer of the case, however, the trial is expected to begin afresh.
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