Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige on
JUSTICE Hussein Murhktar of an Abuja high court yesterday fixed November 7, this year to decide whether to discharge and acquit the embattled former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara of a 15-count criminal charge of demanding, receiving and sharing of bribe totaling N55 million among his colleagues in the National Assembly.
ABUJA—JUSTICE Hussein Murhktar of an Abuja high court yesterday fixed November 7, this year to decide whether to discharge and acquit the embattled former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara of a 15-count criminal charge of demanding, receiving and sharing of bribe totaling N55 million among his colleagues in the National Assembly.
The verdict of the court will also touch on whether or not his alleged accomplices to the crime, including five legislators and a former cabinet member of President Olusegun Obasanjo government have a case to answer.
The five legislators whose fate are swinging like a pendulum are Senator Ibrahim Abdulazeez, Senator John Azuta Mbata, Senator Emmanuel Okpede, Senator Badamasi Maccido, Hon Dr Garba Sheu Matazu with the former Education Minister, Prof Osuji.
The high court judge fixed the date yesterday after counsel to each of the accused persons in the case rounded off legal arguments on their preliminary objections challenging the charge preferred against them.
It would be recalled that six legislators including former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara were on April 12 arraigned before the Abuja high court for demanding and collecting N55million bribe in the name of “PR” and “reward” from the sacked Education Minister, Prof Fabian Osuji for the passage of the 2005 budget of the Federal Ministry of Education.
The former Education Minister, Prof Osuji was also arraigned before the court exclusively for allegedly offering the bribe to the legislators.
Although they were docked together, separate charges were preferred against them.
For instance, all the six legislators were slammed with a separate nine count charge for allegedly demanding and collecting N50 million naira bribe in the name of PR from Osuji, contrary to the provisions of section 26 (1), 10(a) (1), 17 (a), 26 (1) (c), 23 (1) of the ICPC Act 2000. Their acts were said to be punishable under sections 8 (1), 10 (a) (ii), 19 and 23 (3) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000
Wabara was however singled out of the sextet to face a separate two-count charge for receiving the sum of N5 million as gratification or and reward for intervening in the dispute regarding the 2005 budget of the Federal Ministry of Education contrary to the provisions of section 10 (a) (i) and 17 (1) (a) (i) of the ICPC Act 2000.
His act and conduct were said to be punishable under section 10 (a) (ii) and 17 (1) (c) of the ICPC Act 2000.
By implication, Wabara is to stand trial for eleven-count charge of the total 15 count charges preffered against the sextet.
But shortly after he was arraigned, the former Senate President approached the court demanding that all the 11-count charges be quashed.
His application for the nullification of all the charges against him came about 72 hours to the commencement of his trial before the Abuja high court.
Wabara predicated his request on six grounds including: That the preferment of the counts or charges against him is patently in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as enshrined in the constitution; That the national broadcast of President Obasanjo on March 22, 2005 and relayed \published extensively by media houses in the country both electronic and print, whereby the he (president) not only accused him of taking bribe but also pronounced him guilty of the offences of bribe taking and sharing, is prejudicial to and constitutes an infringement on his rights to fair hearing.
as demanded by the rule of natural justice and guaranteed by section 36 of the 1999 constitution;
That any attempt to try him in respect of any of the counts \ charges will place him in double jeopardy;
That the proof of evidence does not disclose any prima facie case or any case at all against him warranting or requiring him to stand trial in respect of counts\ charges one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven;
That some of the offences in the counts are not defined or contained in any written law and
That the entire counts, if placed or compared with the proof of evidence and or the list of witnesses would clearly demonstrate that his arraignment based on the said counts constitute a gross abuse of the processes of the court.
It would be recalled that sacked Education Minister, Prof Fabian Osuji also brought similar application before the Abuja high court, contending that he had no case to answer.
He had described the entire information filed against him as not only porous and unsustainable but also vexatious, oppressive and an abuse of court process.
He listed 11 reasons why the court must quash the entire information filed against him.
The 11 reasons include the following:
That the honourable court lacks the jurisdiction to try him on any of the four counts in the charge as preferred against him, namely counts 12, 13, 14 and 15 hereof;
That the proof of evidence attached to the charge against him is incompetent for failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of Rule 3(2) (a) and (b) of the criminal procedure (applications for leave to prefer charges in the high court) Rules 1970;
That the summary of the proposed evidence of the prosecution as attached to the charge cannot be relied upon by the honourable court, same having been substantially skewed;
That there were no sufficient materials placed before the court to enable it exercise its discretion to grant leave to prefer a charge against him ;
That the proof of evidence when taken in its totality does not disclose a prima facie case against him requiring him to stand trial before this court or any other court of law on any of the four counts as contained in the said charge;
That it is prejudicial and oppressive for him to be indicted to face the rigours of criminal trial which from the outset he should not face, being one infringing the liberty of a Nigerian citizen;
That the charge has not been brought in accordance with the law and due process;
That counts 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the said charge as preferred against him are grossly incompetent;
That he ia a hapless victim who ought not to have been arraigned in the first place;
That his rights to fair trial has been thoroughly jeopardized and prejudiced by the National Broadcast of President Olusegun Obasanjo on March 22 wherein he was tried, convicted, sentenced and punished in respect of the same matter for which he has now been arraigned before this court and
That the entire charge is vexatious, oppressive and constitutes a gross abuse of court process.
Other accused persons in the case also brought their preliminary objections which were well argued before the court fixed a definite day yesterday for ruling on it.
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