ABUJA—A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed the no-case submission entered by the former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu and the former Director General of the Directorate of Rural Development in the the state, Alfa Ibn Mustapha.
The court presided over by Justice Olukayode A. Adeniyi ruled that both men had a case to answer and should therefore prepare for the trial proper on a set date in November this year.
The duo, who were first arraigned on Monday March 18, 2013, had asked the court to quash the 36-count charge against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N10,965,837,040 .
Audu and his co-accused on May 2 and June 17, 2013 respectively, filed the separate applications for reasons of want of jurisdiction, competency and abuse of court processes.
On his part, Audu through his counsel, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, further prayed in the alternative for reliefs of stay of further proceedings of the instant charge, pending the hearing and final determination of the two appeal cases pending at the Abuja and Kogi Appellate courts.
In arriving at his decision to strike out the applications, the judge maintained that as long as part of the proceeds of the purported crimes were laundered through Abuja based-banks, and used to acquire houses in Abuja, with the accused ordinarily residing also in Abuja, the court has the territorial jurisdiction to determine the counts.
The judge also stated that Audu’s argument on abuse of court process in view of the charges at the appellate courts, which his counsel said was alive, extant and pending was a dissipation of judicial time because the case had been set aside through a nolle prosequi filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and that of Kogi State respectively.
He concurred with the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, that where a nolle is entered in a matter, and before the court formally pronounces thereupon, a fresh matter which is filed in another court with respect to the same subject matter, cannot constitute an abuse of court process.
One of the charges against the duo reads: “That you Prince Abubakar Audu and Alfa Ibn Mustapha between 2000 and 2002 at Abuja in the Abuja judicial division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory while being the governor of Kogi State and Director General of Kogi State Directorate of Rural Development respectively, and in such capacities entrusted with dominion over certain property, to wit: an aggregated sum of N2,877,487,690.88 meant for rural development in Kogi State committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum which you falsely claim to be payment made to Aresanmi Technical Industries Limited.”