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Iyabo Obasanjo afraid of trial – EFCC

Posted by By GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2008/05/13 | Views: 1296 |

Iyabo Obasanjo afraid of trial – EFCC


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, is afraid of standing trial in the face of overwhelming evidence against her over the N300 million fraud at the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, is afraid of standing trial in the face of overwhelming evidence against her over the N300 million fraud at the Federal Ministry of Health.

The commission, which is insisting on a court order compelling her appearance, says the senator is trying to frustrate her arraignment and subsequent trial.
This is even as the court declined ruling on whether or not it can compel Senator Obasanjo-Bello’s appearance in court as a condition precedent to the hearing of her application seeking to quash the charges against her. It deferred ruling till May 19.
Counsel to Obasanjo-Bello and the prosecution counsel, however, adopted their briefs of arguments.

The EFCC had obtained the order of the court to include Obasanjo-Bello’s name in the charge sheet it brought against the former Ministers of Health Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku, as well as nine other civil servants who are standing trial over allegation of fraud and stealing N300 million belonging to Ministry of Health.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the EFCC, through its counsel, James Binang, noted that the multiple applications brought by Obasanjo-Bello amounted to attempts to frustrate her trial.
He had in a written address to the applications filed by Obasanjo-Bello through her
counsel, Bankole Joel Akomalafe, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try her, averred that the presence of the senator in court was a sine qua non (condition precedent) to the consideration of the applications brought on her behalf.

The prosecution counsel also asked the court to determine whether or not it has the jurisdiction to grant an injunction to restrain the EFCC from performing its statutory duty of prosecuting the applicant (Obasanjo-Bello). He further asked the court to determine what legal effect of the leave it granted to the commission to amend the charges against the accused person.

Binang maintained: “This honourable court has the jurisdiction to guard against the abuse of its process. From the processes filed before the court, the 12th accused person/applicant/respondent had, earlier on May 11th 2008, filed a notice of preliminary objection seeking for orders of the court to strike out counts 55 and 56 in the charge in its entirety for want of jurisdiction or in the alternative an order striking out the name of the 12th accused person, pending the determination of the notice of preliminary objection filed on 11th May 2008.

“By the 28th of April, 2008, when these applications came up for hearing, all the issues have been joined by way of affidavit evidence and this court consolidated these applications and ordered the parties to file written submissions while taking May 12th 2008 for the adoption of the written submissions. However, on May 5th 2008, the 12th accused person filed another notice of preliminary objection and another interlocutory injunction seeking all the reliefs sought in her earlier applications, which issues have been joined.”

The commission had, on Monday, asked the court to dismiss an application by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello seeking to stop the anti-graft body from arresting and arraigning her for illegally holding on to N10 million out of the N300 million Ministry of Health’s unspent fund.

In a brief of argument filed by EFCC’s prosecutor, James Binang, in response to Obasanjo-Bello’s argument that she could not be compelled to appear in court until her application to stop the commission from arresting her had been heard, EFCC said that granting her application would give the impression that she is above the law and could lead to a general break down of law and order.
“If the current trend of rushing to court for injunctive orders restraining criminal prosecution by some powerful individuals is not quickly halted by this honourable court, then Nigeria shall soon be witnessing a situation where armed robbery and murder suspects will obtain orders to restrain the Police from arresting, investigating and prosecuting them. After all, they too are entitled to secure the enforcement of their fundamental rights under the rule of law,” he said.

The commission stated that citizens were entitled to enjoy their rights under the law, but added that such rights were not absolute.
It stated that if there was a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence, his liberty might be tampered with.
“It is in the interest of justice that the 12th accused person (Obasanjo-Bello) be ordered to submit herself properly to the criminal jurisdiction of this court before consideration is given to any application to quash the charge.”

In her own brief filed by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Obasanjo-Bello argued that EFCC had no power to arrest her until the court has ruled on her applications challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
Babalola said that the commission must wait for the court to determine her objection to her criminal trial before she could be arrested.
He said: “The right of the EFCC or the police to arrest is not at large. There is no right to arrest innocent citizens. There is no right to arrest a person charged to court who is protesting his innocence before the court.

“EFCC is expected to respect the court and the decision of the Supreme Court that the accused, who is challenging the competence of such charges is at liberty not to attend the court.”
He stated that Obasanjo-Bello had no case to answer based on the following grounds: The charge against her was defective, due process of law was not followed, no prima facie case was placed before the court to warrant any charge, organization of retreat was and is still lawful.

She never handled N10million belonging to the Ministry of Health. The sum of N10 million paid to the Senate Committee on Health by the Senate was received by the Secretary and expended on the retreat in which all the members of the committee and not Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello alone personally, participated.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.