By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, yesterday sought leave of the court to file an application for the transfer of their trial on alleged money laundering charges from the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to the Federal High Court in Minna.
Aliyu alongside his former Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko, are been prosecuted by the federal government on an alleged conspiracy to launder over N1 billion ecological funds.
When the matter came up Â yesterday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Ben Ikani, informed the court that the business for the day was the commencement of trial, adding that he was ready to call in his first witness.
However, counsel to the second defendant, Mamman Osuman (SAN), prayed the court to allow him move an application in which he was challenging the jurisdiction of the Abuja division of the court to hear the matter.
According to Osuman, Â in an interview with journalists shortly after the proceedings, the request was predicated on the grounds that the alleged offences were committed in Niger State, Â the accused as well as the witnesses to be called by the prosecution are all in Niger state.
Responding, trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, stated that since the Federal High Court was one he has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Justice Dimgba advised Osuman that rather than continue with the application challenging his jurisdiction, he should apply that the matter be transferred to Minna.
However, taking the hint of the court, Osuman then prayed the court for an adjournment to allow him bring another application seeking to transfer the matter to the Federal High Court in Minna.Â
Consequently, the judge adjourned the matter to October 5,2017Â to give all parties sufficient time to reflect on the issues and arrive at a consensus in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the matter.
Aliyu andÂ Â Nasko were arraigned on May 16 and both were admitted to bail in the sum of N200 million each.
The two defendants were accused of conspiring to launder ecological funds amounting to over N1 billion released by the federal government to Niger government in 2014.
The offence according to the EFCC, contravenes Section 18 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 and is punishable under Section 15 of the same Act.
They both pleaded not guilty to the offence.