Â Alex Enumah in AbujaÂ â€¨
Former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido, wednesday challenged theÂ transfer of his trial from Justice Adeniyi Ademolaâ€™s court to that of Justice B. O. Quadri of the same Federal High CourtÂ in Abuja.
Lamido, his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, and six others were in September 2015 arraigned before Justice Ademola in Abuja on a 27-count charge bordering on alleged abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N1.3billion.
However, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, following a request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had transferred the case from Justice Ademola to Justice Quadri.
The EFCC had hinged their request on the recent trial of Justice Ademola over alleged bribery and corruption charges in which Ademola and his co-accused were discharged and acquitted.
According to the EFCC, â€œit will not be in the interest of justice for the case to be transferred back to Justice Ademolaâ€™s court for continuation of trial. This is because of the negative impressions the public may have about the outcome of the trial whether the defendants (Lamido and sons) are convicted or not.â€
The anti-graft agency further said: â€œThe fear of this public perception may put the judge (Justice Ademola) under intense pressure which may affect his sense of judgment.
At the resumed trial before Justice Quadri, yesterday, counsel to Lamido and his two sons, Joe Agi (SAN),Â informed the court of an application seeking to stop the transfer of the case to another court.
In a motion on notice,Â the defendants challenged the transfer of the suit from Justice Ademola to Quadri.
They urged the court to take cognisance of the fact that the case started in September 2015, â€œthat 18 prosecution witnesses had testified, that the reassignment of the case by the chief judge is contrary to law.â€
They averred that starting the case afresh â€œwill be prejudicial to the rights of the defendants who are to have their case heard and determined within a reasonable time.â€
Agi said: â€œWe wrote to the chief judge to reassign the case back to his lordship, Justice Ademola in view of the fact that 18 witnessed had been called and that by Section 98 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, transfer of cases in criminal trials are not done as a matter of course.â€
Agi therefore urged the court to make an order that the case file be returned to Justice Ademola and â€œAn order directing an accelerated hearing and determination of the charge against the defendants.â€
In a five-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Femi Popoola, the defence submitted that the trial afresh at this time would unleash hardship on the defendants.
The prosecution counsel, Sadisu Abubakar, however requested for an adjournment to enable him react to the application.
Justice Quadri, consequently adjourned the matter till May 3.