Symbol of Justice
An Ibadan High Court presided over by Justice Okanlawon Akintunde Boade Wednesday declared that a former governor of Oyo State, Christopher Alao-Akala and two others have cases to answer.
Alao-Akala and the two accused persons are standing trial on an 11-count charge of corruption slammed on them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Boade, who ruled on the preliminary objection brought by the accused persons to quash the charges against them, insisted that the trio must explain their roles in the charges preferred against them.
The 11-count charge border on conspiracy, illegal award of contracts, obtaining by false presence, acquiring properties with money derived from illegal act, and concealing the ownership of such properties.
Counsel to the accused person, led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had filed a preliminary objection, asking the court to quash the charges as they did not disclose any substantial evidence to warrant the accused persons standing full trial based on the allegations.
The defence counsel had asked Justice Boade to strike out or dismiss the charge, noting that it was sheer oppression and abuse of power to put anybody on trial on an offence that was not proved.
The prosecution led by Mr. Godwin Obla, however told the court that the plethora of evidence adduced by the EFCC against the accused persons deserved an explanation.
He prayed the court to discountenance the application seeking to quash the charges.
Justice Boade in his 40-minute ruling yesterday, said the application to quash the charges was not meritorious and consequently dismissed it.
According to him, the three accused persons have some things to explain, stressing that: “I am of the strong view that the proof of evidence is established against the accused persons.”
He said having taken the pleas of the accused persons in line with the provision of Section 167 of the Civil Procedure Law, the accused persons could not challenge the jurisdiction of the court.
The court held that Alao-Akala was a public officer and so could be tried by the EFCC and added that the proof of evidence has disclosed prima facie case that will warrant him being questioned.
Leading the defence counsel yesterday was Mamman Osumor (SAN), who after the ruling, commended the judge for his industry, but said, “notwithstanding, we do not accept this ruling as a correct position of law.
“For we the lawyers, who are counsel to the three accused persons, our legal opinion is that the position taken by the judge is erroneous in law. But because we are not the litigants, or the accused persons, we will await further instructions from our clients,” Osumor said, indicating that the ruling might be appealed.
Osumor, therefore, requested that the Certified True Copy (CTC) be ready on time, and which the judge said would be ready within seven days.