Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has asked the Chief Justice of Nigerian (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to reassign all graft court cases being handled by Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to another judge.
This, he stated, in a letter to the CJN, is in a bid to obtain fair judgement. Prosecuting counsel, Onjefu Obe, had told the court about the development on Wednesday during the trial of the quartet of Umar Audu Bida, Truth Igogori, Ifenyinwa Nwankwesiri and Ogechukwu Obaji.
The defendants are being prosecuted by EFCC over their complicity in a $1 million fraud. According to Obe, the concern of the Commission to reassign all EFCC cases before Justice Nyako, borders on likely bias on part of the trial judge, considering the fact that EFCC was also prosecuting her husband, Murtala Nyako, a former Adamawa State governor for alleged fraud. The anti-graft agency had, in 2017, arraigned the defendants before Justice Nyako on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of $1 million.
They allegedly defrauded Donald Latella of North Park LLC of the said sum in a business deal involving the supply of about two million barrels of bonny light crude oil. They had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Obe said that he had come to court fully prepared with the prosecution witnesses to proceed with the case. But unfortunately, the case (FHC/ABJ/C12/ 266/16), was not listed in the court’s schedule as it is yet to be reassigned to another court.” Counsel for the second defendant, Solomon Agada, also lamented that his client usually travels from Lagos to Abuja for the case. He therefore urged the court to intervene and called for the speedy reassignment of the case in order for the case to proceed. Both counsel, however, agreed to await the re-assignment of the case and thereafter mutually agree on the next possible adjournment.