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Iyabo Obasanjo spits fire… Says EFCC’s action illegal

Posted by By GODWIN TSA, Abuja on 2008/05/16 | Views: 1051 |

Iyabo Obasanjo spits fire… Says EFCC’s action illegal


The ding-dong affairs between Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reached a crescendo on Thursday when the embattled daughter of the former president told an Abuja High Court point blank that she would not allow herself to be used as a vessel of illegality by the anti-graft body by appearing in court until the court decides otherwise.

The ding-dong affairs between Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reached a crescendo on Thursday when the embattled daughter of the former president told an Abuja High Court point blank that she would not allow herself to be used as a vessel of illegality by the anti-graft body by appearing in court until the court decides otherwise.

This is even as the court has fixed May 20 to decide on whether or not she could be compelled to come and answer the allegations of crime preferred against her by the EFCC.
She has been dragged before the court by the commission on two-count to wit: conspiracy to retain stolen property to the sum of N10 million belonging to the Federal Government, an offence the EFCC said is punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990.

In addition, she was alleged to have, while serving as chairperson, Senate Committee on Health, dishonestly retained the sum of N10 million belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria, having reason to believe same to be stolen property thereby committing an offence punishable under section 317 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990.
But the embattled senator, who has since filed a notice of preliminary objection before the court, is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter against her.

In addition, she has asked the court through her counsel, Joel Akomolafe from the law firm of Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to quash the charges against her, as well as to strike out her name from the amended charges.
In attacking the jurisdiction of the court, as well as the competence of the charges against her, as defective, she said the action instituted without due process of law goes to issue of jurisdiction.
According to her, this is a case where prosecutor rushed to court without filing proof of evidence against me and thereafter published to the whole world that I’m at large.”

It was her contention that by virtue of the Criminal Procedure (Preferment of charges in the High Court) rules 1970, the requirements before an accused is made to face criminal trial are as follows;
•The application shall be in writing, signed by counsel and shall be accompanied by the charge in respect of which leave is sought and unless the application is made by or on behalf of the Attorney General, it shall be accompanied by an affidavit by the applicant that the statements contained in the application are, to the best of the deponent’s knowledge, true

•The application shall state whether or not previous applications have been made and the result thereof,
•The application shall be accompanied by proofs of the evidence of the witnesses proposed to be called and that such witnesses shall be available at trial.
She submitted further that it is only when the judge finds that there is a prima facie evidence that a crime has been committed and the accused is linked to it that a court will give consent to proceed.

She argued that at no time did she personally collected the N10 million which she said was disbursed by the Secretary of the Senate Committee on Health.
More so, it is her defence that the minutes of meetings and the various correspondence and letters before the court showed clearly that the retreat was debated and planned for by the members of the Senate Committee on Health.

Akomolafe told the court that his client is not on the run, noting that, “what is
happening here is that she has refused to be used as a vessel of illegality. What she is saying is that, show me the crime, the prima facie that I have committed in going for a National assignment.
“If the court now rules and says there is a crime in it, well she will come here and let them come and prove the case against her.”

Meanwhile, efforts by Obasanjo-Bello to file fresh objections to the amended charges were vehemently opposed by the prosecution counsel, James Binang on the grounds that the fresh applications amounted to abuse of the process of the court and are caught up by the law of estoppels.
The court will however, deliver its ruling next Tuesday on whether or not to compel her to face her trial.

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