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Court recalls ex-minister, two others for trial

Posted by Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abuja on 2008/11/14 | Views: 2577 |

Court recalls ex-minister, two others for trial


An Abuja High Court yesterday okayed the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to recall the former Minister of State for Health, Mr. Gabriel Aduku and two suspended officials of the ministry for trial on the alleged N300 million unspent budget scam.

An Abuja High Court yesterday okayed the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to recall the former Minister of State for Health, Mr. Gabriel Aduku and two suspended officials of the ministry for trial on the alleged N300 million unspent budget scam. The officials are Prof. Simon Ogandi (Permanent Secretary) and Hanafi Muhammad (Director Finance and Administration).Granting the request, Justice Salisu Garba held that the application brought by EFCC to re-introduce the names of trio on the charge was proper because he had not pronounced judgment on the matter.

Justice Garba said the earlier discharge of the accused by the court following an application by the EFCC was not an acquittal. He maintained that the EFCC had right to file a motion for amendment since judgment had not been pronounced in the matter.

``After a careful study for and against the order being sought by the prosecution, the court is of the view that the suit Pinheiro was proper before the court as against the argument of the respondents. ``The court is also of the view that the order being sought was not an abuse of court process because the court had not taken its position in the matter. ``Since the court has the right to grant an order for amendment in a matter where judgment had not been pronounced, leave is hereby granted the prosecution to add Aduku, Ogandi and Mohammed to the charge," Garba said.

He, however, dismissed the argument of EFCC that the trio were discharged earlier without official consent. The Nation recalls that the court had on October 21 discharged Aduku, Muhammad and Ogandi based on the application brought by the anti-graft agency to drop charge against them. The then EFCC counsel, James Binang had told the court that the decision to free them among the twelve accused persons facing trial was in the interest of justice.

Others were, however, to continue with the trial. They included former Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange, H. B. Oyedepo, Donald Ekanem, Donatus Inyang, Olowo J.A, Obaje Olatunbosun, Henry Onyeagualam, Edem Basseyand the embattled Senate’ Health Committee Chairman, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

A week later, the anti-graft agency made a U-turn. EFCC ordered for the arrest of the trio and requested the court to recall them to face trial. The commission said its action was based on a superior legal advice. This did not go down well with the trio. Citing abuse of court processes, they protested the bid to recall them.Moving his motion, the prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinhero (SAN) urged the court to grant the leave to amend the charge and deeming same as properly filed.

The application brought pursuant to Section 308 (1) ofthe criminal Procedure Code was supported by a 7-Paragraph Affidavit. He relied on all its averments. According to Pinhero (SAN), the EFCC counsel-Binang who dropped the charge against the trio did so without recourse to the authority and contrary to the avowed policy of EFCC.

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