The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, October 18, 2018, urged Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos to refuse applications seeking to transfer a N650m fraud case involving a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Olajumoke Akinjide, and two others to Ibadan, Oyo State.
Akinjide alongside Senator Ayo Adeseun and a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart, Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, were re-arraigned on an amended 24-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N650m.
At the resumed hearing today, counsel to the second defendant, Micheal F. Lana, as well as counsel to the third defendant, Akiola Oladeji, brought applications before the court seeking an order to transfer the case to Ibadan, Oyo State.
In his application, counsel to the second defendant prayed the court for the transfer of the matter to Ibadan, Oyo State, where he said the alleged offenses were committed.
He argued that the second defendant did not apply for the case to be moved to Lagos, adding that the consent of his client was never sought to that effect.
” My Lord, it is in the interest of justice and fair hearing that the case be transferred to Ibadan.
” My Lord, we are seeking the transfer of the matter to Ibadan because it will be difficult to bring all the witnesses, who are in various parts of Oyo State.
“Besides, my client does not have the means to do so,” he said.
He further stated that the second defendant had sought administrative transfer of the case back to Ibadan through the Chief Judge and that the documents were before the court.
Lana further said that Justice Hassan could still precede over the case in Ibadan into order not to delay the case.
He, therefore, urged the court to grant his application.
However, in his response, counsel to the prosecution, Nnemeka Omewa, pleaded with the court to refuse the applications.
He stated that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the case , adding that it was the first defendant who applied for the case to be moved from Ibadan, where they were first arraigned.
He also told the court that the second defendant did not contest the application by the first defendant.
He, therefore, urged the court to stay ruling on the application till the end of the case.
Arguing a similar application, counsel to the third defendant told the court that the third defendant intended to call 65 local party leaders, chairmen and other officials in six local governments as witnesses.
“My Lord, the logistics and cost of bringing them makes Lagos an inconvenient venue for the trial and for the third defendant to adequately prepare her defence,” he added.
Counsel to the prosecution, in his response, however, informed the court that the Section 98(1)(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 states that the Chief Judge shall transfer a matter, if the prosecution has not called any witness.
” But my Lord, in this case, two witnesses have been called,” he stated.
The prosecution counsel further informed the court that when the third defendant took her plea before the court, there was no application for transfer of the case in the court’s record.
He, therefore, urged the court to refuse the application.
Consequently, Justice Hassan adjourned to October 19, 2018 for continuation of trial within trial and November 9, 2018 for ruling on the application.