FG Arraigns Lamido, Two Sons, Others on Fresh 43 Count Corruption Charge

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Okoroma submitted that it would be wrong for Agi to defend a case before Ademola because the public perception would be that the judge was bias, which-ever-way the verdict went. 

Earlier in his ruling yesterday, Justice Quadri held that to serve the interest of justice and public peace, he would not return the case to Justice Ademola, adding that there might be a misplaced impression of likely bias if the case is returned to Ademola.

The federal government had dragged Justice Ademola, his wife, Olubowale, and Lamido’s lead counsel, Joe Agi, before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on allegations of receiving gratification.

 However, Justice Jude Okeke in his ruling on a no case submission by the defendants, held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants and consequently discharged and acquitted them of all the 18 counts charges preferred against them on April 5, 2017.

In arguing the application on transfer of Lamido’s trial back to Justice Ademola, Agi, had argued that since Ademola was back to his court after he was discharged and acquitted on corruption charges, he should continue with the case and that he (Quadri), who was assigned the case by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, during Ademola’s trial, should hands off.  

He submitted that it would be extremely difficult for the defendants to be subjected to attend trial afresh when the prosecution, the EFCC, had already called 18 witnesses before Justice Ademola’s court. 

The defendants had argued further that the Chief Judge failed to comply with the conditions precedent provided for in sections 98(1) to (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act before transferring the case. 

Opposing the application, EFCC’s counsel,  Okoroma had maintained that with the history of the trial which Justice Ademola and Agi jointly underwent, the Judge’s decision on the outcome of Lamido’s trial would definitely be viewed with biased mind.  

Responding, Justice Quadri admitted that there was a lacuna in the provisions of section 98(1) to (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, under which the Chief Judge exercised its powers to transfer the case from Justice Ademola to him (Justice Quadri). 

Justice Quadri noted that the ACJA did not envisage a situation whereby a trial judge would be suspended on the grounds of undergoing a joint trial along with a defence lawyer in an ongoing criminal case before the judge and later recalled after being exonerated of the charges.

“Section 98 of ACJA is short of remedy to this case,” Justice Quadri ruled

He however ruled that in order to allow the spring of justice to flow and to avoid any form of “misplaced impression of bias” it was better not to return the case to Justice Ademola. 

The Judge however noted that the allegation of likelihood of bias should not be raised to “impugn the integrity” of Justice Ademola and Agi since both of them had been exonerated of the charges preferred against them. 

The Judge also granted an accelerated hearing of the case assuring parties in the case that he would do his best to do justice and be fair to all with “utmost sense of responsibility”. 

The suit has been adjourned till October 18 and 19 for trial.