- To be arraigned Dec 13
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court monday ordered the immediate past Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Emeka Mba, to report at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja for an amended criminal charge sheet to be served on him and his co-defendants.
The order was sequel to complaints by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Salisu Majidadi, over difficulties he experienced in effecting service of the amended charge sheet on the defendants.
Emeka Mba, Patrick Are, Basil Udotai and Babatunji Amu are facing a 15-count amended charge bordering on money laundering and diversion of public funds.
The accused persons were billed for arraignment monday. However, their arraignment could not take place due to the inability of the prosecuting counsel to serve them with the amended charge sheet dated and filed on October 14 and 21, 2016.
When the matter was called up yesterday, Majidadi informed the court of the difficulty he had been having in serving the defendants with the amended charge, and consequently requested for five days within which the defendants will be served with the amended charge.
Responding, counsel to the defendant led by Sunday Ameh (SAN) said, the issue of service or non-service of the amended charge should not be an issue for the court’s consideration because, each of the defendants, for instance, the 1st and 4th defendant had been served, while the 2nd and 3rd defendants had obtained copies of the amended charge from the third defendant’s counsel.
Counsel informed the court that their respective clients had waved the issue of service because they were already in possession of the amended charge, and they were ready for the arraignment of the defendants who had all filed applications for bail pending the determination of the criminal charge against them.
Ruling on the application for an adjournment by the prosecuting counsel, Justice Kolawole held that, “The defendants shall report in the complaint’s office on Wednesday 30 November 2016 at 10 am and shall be served each with the amended charge.
“Let it be clearly stated that if the complainant was unable to get the amended charge served on November 20, 2016 within the regular working hours of 10 am and 4pm, the defendants shall be released on administrative bail which the EFCC had previously granted them and shall advise them as to a date within five days from today when the amended charge which the prosecution has informed the court of been available but that the copies are not with him in court.
“This case is hereby adjourned to 13 December, 2016 at 10 am for the arraignment of the defendants on a 15 count of the amended charge dated 14 October, 2016 and filed on October 21, 2016.
“The defendants shall return to court for their arraignment and the hearing of their bail applications,” Justice Kolawole said.