The trial of Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, in the Bayelsa Division was halted abruptly as the trial judge, Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere, disclosed that the case file had been transferred to another court.
Justice Nganjiwa is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFFC, for unlawful enrichment to the tune of $260, 000 and N8.65million (about N81, 705,000).
Explaining the reason for the development, Justice Akintoye said she resolved to withdraw from the case following a petition written by Justice Nganjiwa alleging bias and seeking the transfer of the case to another judge.
EFCC Spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said “In view of the letter written by the defence to the administrative judge, the case file is no longer with me. It has been transferred to another court,” she said.
He also reported that the defendant and his counsel were absent in court.
Justice Nganjiwa had been granted bail on self-recognition after he pleaded not guilty to the 14-count charge preferred against him.
Thereafter, counsel to the accused, Chief Robert Clarke, SAN, had filed a motion on notice dated October 4, 2017 seeking a stay of proceedings.
Moving his application on October 6, 2017, Clarke had said: “”My Lord, after an appeal has been entered at the Court of Appeal, a date has been given for hearing. My Lord, in the interest of Justice and the Constitution of Nigeria, I urge you to grant this application.”
However, the prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, had opposed the application based on the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
“We strongly oppose this application based on the ACJA. It’s incompetent because the law does not allow it. My Lord, this will cause delay. Our courts frown on delay tactics by defence counsel.
“The fact that defendant has taken his plea means that he has surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the court. This application is incomplete; it’s designed to delay proceedings. I urge my Lord to dismiss the application and order the prosecution to commerce its case. In fact, my Lord, our witnesses are ready.”
In her short ruling, Justice Akintoye had dismissed the application, saying, “The application before the court is motion of notice, asking the court for stay of proceedings.
“The judiciary system has moved away from delay tactics. As a result, this matter will continue today. The application is hereby dismissed. We will proceed with the trial.”
Following the ruling, counsel to the defendant had pleaded with the court for more time to go through the proof of evidence served on him by the prosecution.
Consequently, Justice Akintoye had adjourned the case to November 13, 15 and 22, 2017 for continuation of trial, after dismissing Nganjiwa’s application for stay of proceedings.
This is just as the federal government anti corruption agency, on Wednesday commenced this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day kicked off at its Academy, Karu, Abuja,
Seven out of the eight schools invited, turned up, including, the Roberto Secondary school, Wuse 2; Aduvie International School, Jabi; Funtaj International School, Apo; Starville School, Gwarimpa; Lavogue International School, Karu; Olumawu School, Wuse 2 and Shining Star College, Kubwa, all in Abuja.
Students from the participating schools debated the topics – “Poverty Fuels Corruption More Than Greed”, and “Preventing Corruption from Happening is More Effective than Arrest and Prosecution of Offenders”.
During arguments for and against the topics at the knock out session, the students described corruption as a menace that negatively affects the socio-economic well being of the people. They called for more proactive measures to be taken in tackling it.
Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the EFCC, while speaking through Zainab Bello Tifi, Desk Officer, EFCC Integrity Club, reiterated the Commission’s resolve to vigorously enforce its mandate alongside preventive initiatives with a view to effectively tackle corruption in Nigeria.
He identified the role of the youths as strategic to winning the war against graft, while stressing the need to give children a platform to share their thoughts about corruption and what could be done to tame it.
“It is important to nip the tree of corruption at the bud by catching them young”, he said.
The event is a build up to the grand event coming up at the Musa Yar’Adua Center, Abuja on December 11, 2017.
According to Tifi, there are about twenty two other agencies actively involved in the planning and execution of the activities to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day.
Also speaking, Jane Onwumere, of the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, TUGAR, which is the secretariat for the Inter-Agency Task Team of Anti-Corruption Agencies, said that the debate competition is an annual event organized by the Inter-Agency Task Team to commemorate the Anti- Corruption day.
While noting that this year’s December 9 fell on a Saturday, Onwumere invited the schools to be present at the debate finale which would hold on December 11, 2017 at the Yar’dua Center, Abuja.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja