Oronsaye: Case Adjourned till June 13 for Further Hearing

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Anayo Okolie

Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court has adjourned hearing in the case of breach of trust preferred against Nigeria’s former head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for continued hearing in the matter.

However, there was mild drama at the hearing, as the legal team of the EFCC failed to honour an earlier order of the Court, directing it to file clear fresh charges and evidences in the matter.

Justice Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, had issued an order directing the EFCC to file fresh charges and additional evidence in the suit, a directive the Commission did not heed.

Upon resumed hearing Friday, Counsel to Mr. Oronsaye, Ade Okeaya-Inne, SAN drew the attention of the Court to the flaws identified in the processes served.

“On the last adjourned date, the Court made an order that clear copies be served. The copies served do not represent that order. We have been served additional charges and two additional documents. They do not represent the set of clear copies, as ordered,” Okeaya-Inne observed.

Responding, the presiding Judge, Justice Goodluck expressed concerns over the impropriety of the documents.

“The Court is concerned about the propriety of the documents in the courts records, having not been part of the Court’s order. The Court had ordered the EFCC to put their records straight, ahead of today’s proceedings.”

The Prosecution counsel apologised to the court for the blunder and appealed that the amended charges brought against the accused be read out, a plea the judge granted.

The former Head of Service, Steve Oronsaye however pleaded not guilty to the 7-count amended charge bothering on alleged criminal breach of trust, as Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Financial Action Task Force-FATF, read out to him.
Following an oral application by the defense counsel, the court reiterated its earlier order, granting bail to the accused.

As the hearing commenced, a Prosecution witness, Ibrahim Musa, an Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc, Abuja, shocked the Court, when he claimed that he had never met the accused personally, but managed the account of the Presidential Committee. He explained how the account was opened, following all known banking procedures.

During cross examination, Musa denied knowledge of any form of investment of the funds by the accused, as claimed by the prosecution. “The Committee’s funds in Zenith Bank were never invested. When TSA was implemented, all the monies were sent to the TSA and the account closed.”, he explained.

The prosecution introduced another witness, Mr. Bello Hammadhama, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, serving in the Special Task Force of the Commission. In his testimony that lasted for nearly two hours, the EFCC operative said the Commission received a Petition against the accused, alleging abuse of trust, which they investigated.

However, with the consent of all the parties, the presiding judge adjourned the matter to June 13 and 24 and July 8, 2016 for continuation of hearing.
The EFCC, in March, 2016, Oronsaye, before Justice Goodluck of the FCT High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on a two-count charge bordering on alleged breach of trust.