Symbol of Justice
A Federal High Court in Abuja Thursday dismissed the application of the former governor of Adamawa State, Boni Haruna, and three others seeking to quash the 28-count charge of fraud and embezzlement of public fund preferred against them.
The quartet who were re-arraigned in 2010, by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 28-count charge of fraud and embezzlement of public fund during the administration of the first accused (Haruna) as governor of Adamawa State between 1999 and 2007, are Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, a former Minority Leader in the Adamawa State House of Assembly, John Babani Elias, an aide of the former governor and Al-Akim Investment Nigeria Limited. They were first arraigned in 2008.
The former governor was alleged to have on or about November 13, 2002 in Yola, fraudulently uttered a Guaranty Trust Bank Plc cheque 0348501 dated 13/11/2002 in the sum of N 10,000,000.00 drawn on account number no 3613406139110 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, operated by him in the name of Mohammed Inuwa Bassi, with intent that the said cheque may be acted as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3 (2) (a) of Miscellaneous offences Act, Cap 410 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 as amended.
Shortly after the court, presided by Justice Adamu Bello, granted the accused persons bail, they challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try them and also argued that the proof of evidence against them did not show a prima-facie and therefore the entire charges, an abuse of court process.
They further argued that the offence for which they were charged took place in Adamawa State and not Abuja.
They therefore prayed the court to transfer the case to Adamawa State.
Recalled that written addresses were adopted in November, 2011 and the matter was adjourned to January 31, 2012 for ruling.
But the ruling could not be given and the matter was further adjourned to Match 7, 2012.
Again, the ruling was not ready and the matter was adjourned sine-die, as counsel phone numbers were taken with a promise to reach them through their phones.
However, at the resumed hearing of the case on November 15, 2012, the judge, in his ruling, dismissed the applications praying for the quashing of the 28 criminal count charge against them.
He said the court is not empowered to quash the charges when witnesses have not been heard. The judge however ruled that the case be transferred to Adamawa State as Abuja has no territorial jurisdiction to hear the case.
This, he said is in view of the precedent of the transfer of ex-governor James Ibori’s case from Kaduna to Asaba, Delta state.