Emmanual Udom, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, has lost the bid to quash a money laundering charge preferred against Paul Usoro, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, a sitting judge at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
Usoro was charged for laundering N1.4 billion belonging to the Akwa Ibom State government.
At the resumption of hearing on Wednesday, Justice Aikawa held that the application filed by the Akwa Ibom Dtate governor lacked merit as the governor is not a named party to the suit.
The Judge held that “In a criminal suit, there are two segments: the complainant and the defendant(s).
“In this charge before me, the complainant is the EFCC and the defendant is Paul Usoro.
"Given the fact that the name of the applicant was mentioned in counts one to four does not make him a defendant in this case.
"It is also unconstitutional for the Federal Government to investigate and prosecute a serving governor.
"Gov. Udom cannot be charged in view of the immunity he enjoys, including his aides, and also due to the fact that the N1.4 billion were funds belonging to Akwa Ibom State and not Federal Government."
Justice Aikawa, therefore, ordered the prosecution to serve the defence team with the proof of evidence, prosecution witnesses’ statements and letters from both Access Bank and Diamond Bank.
The prosecution was also ordered to furnish the defence team with the documents within seven days.
Justice Aikawa adjourned the case to June 3, 2019 for continuation of trial.
The NBA President was first arraigned before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court on December 18, 2018.
He was later re-arraigned before Justice Aikawa on a 10- count charge.
One of the counts reads: "That you, Paul Usoro, SAN, Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan, Commissioner of Finance, Akwa Ibom State (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant-General, Akwa Ibom State (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large) sometime in 2015 in Nigerian, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1. 410, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million Naira), property of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act."