The trials of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, was stalled on Tuesday by the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make available to the defendant processes needed to conduct the trial.
The EFCC had re-arraigned Mr Adoke alongside Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman, on an amended 14-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The EFCC had earlier on February 10 arraigned Messrs Adoke and Abubakar on seven counts. Mr Adoke had six counts while Mr Abubakar had one count.
But with amended charges, the defendants now have a seven-count charge each.
The duo is also standing trial alongside others at the FCT High Court in Gwagwalada in Abuja, in respect of the Malabu oil transaction.
According to the anti-graft agency, the duo in 2013, made payments (in naira and dollar) into the former AGF’s accounts.
This is in violation of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, EFCC said.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the EFCC lawyer, Bala Sanga, called his first witness, Clement Osagie, a representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to give evidence.
But before Mr Osagie could commence his testimony after taking an oath to tell the truth, Mr Abubakar’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, raised an objection.
Mr Ojo, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said; “We are constrained at this juncture to raise an objection to the first prosecution witness giving evidence because of the failure of the prosecution to comply with the mandatory provisions of Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) with regards to the necessity to include the list of witnesses among the proof of evidence and summary of the witness statement.”
The senior lawyer noted that the original charge and proof of evidence supplied by the EFCC in the second amended charge does not contain the name of the witness brought to court.
He said the Administrative Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was not enacted for fun but rather to ensure that the defendant gets a fair trial.
“We hereby insist on the right of the second defendant to be served with the proof of evidence,” he said.
“I respectfully urged the court to give effect to the mandatory provisions of Section 375 of ACJA by urging the complainant to furnish us with the statement of the witness in the court.”
Responding, Mr Sanga, the EFCC lawyer, referred the court to page seven of the list of witnesses where he said number nine indicates that an official of CBN will be called. He submitted that since Mr Osagie is an official of the central bank, he ought to be allowed to give his evidence.
Mr Sanga said he had applied to subpoena the CBN on August 4 after filing the amended charge on August 3. He said it was only on Monday evening that the CBN related to him that they would send Mr Osagie to represent the bank.
Not satisfied with the EFCC’s action, Justice Inyang Ekwo said, “You should have concluded everything about your witnesses and evidence and all other materials before you file a charge. It is as simple as that.
“They are even very kind to you. They would have kept their gunpowder dry and allow you to proceed to the end before raising their objection.
“I don’t want the proceedings in my court to amount to nothing
“I’ll give you 24 hours to serve the defendants with all the processes and particulars that they are entitled to under the law.
“Unfortunately, in criminal proceedings, I’m not allowed to penalise; if not, I would have done so.”
The judge adjourned to August 13 for the continuation of trial.