A group of students from Gombe State under the aegis of Gombe Students Association, drawn from some tertiary institutions in the state, Tuesday thronged the Federal High Court in Gombe protesting any delay or subversion of justice in the case involving the former governor of the state Danjuma Goje.
Mr. Goje is standing trial on an 18-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering amounting to N25billion belonging to the state.
The students said they found it necessary to come to the court and support the anti-graft body’s prosecution of the former governor in order to avoid what happened in the case of erstwhile governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
The students, who were prevented from gaining entrance to the court by security men, demanded for progress in the former governor’s prosecution, claiming there have been delays in the hearing of the case.
Mr. Goje is standing trial with four others. The other four accused persons are Aliyu El-Nafaty, Sambo Tumu, S.M. Dakoro and S.M. Dakoro Gombe (a company). They were first arraigned on Monday, October 17th, 2011.
At the resumed hearing of the case before Justice Babatunde Quadri, defence counsel, Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, opposed an attempt by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, to proceed on trial by calling his witnesses for cross examination.
Mr. Adeniyi had urged the court to request Mr. Shittu to show to his clients and the court, an evidence of prosecutorial authority from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before the commencement of trial.
He buttressed his position with references to related matters that have been settled at the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in this regard.
Citing the 1999 Constitution, Mr. Akintola said it is only the AGF and Minister of Justice that can prosecute a criminal case on behalf of the state or do so through the instrumentality of a fiat.
He finally submitted that the only locus the prosecutor can have is to produce a fiat, duly signed by the AGF before the court, the absence of which implies an absence of authority to proceed in the trial thereby denying the accused persons and the court the right to know.
Mr. Akintola opted for the court in the present circumstance to dismiss the charge against the accused persons. But in his response, Mr. Shittu urged the court to take judicial notice that the prosecution is ready to proceed with the trial by calling witnesses already in court. He contended that the objection was only raised in the court orally, without a pre-judicial notice. He accused the defence of ploy to deliberately delay proceedings.
Mr. Shittu also wondered why the defence did not query his authority in earlier appearances as according to him, that was an attempt to stall the case for the third time.He told the court that he could not have proceeded with the brief in the first instance, if he did not have such authority.
But in order not to waste the time of the court in ruling on arguments and proof of evidence, he prayed the court for an adjournment to produce the authority.Justice Quadri obliged him and adjourned to July 3, 4, 5, and 6, 2012, for definite hearing of prosecution witnesses and accelerated trial.