The federal government has arraigned a former Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Friday Komboyein, and four others before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.
A statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations, CCT, Ibraheem Al-Hassan, said yesterday that the defendants were arraigned on Wednesday on charges of abuse of office.
Al-Hassan said the ex-Bayelsa State Speaker and his co-defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
The ex-Speaker’s co-defendants are two former clerks of the House – Mr. Aaron Timiye (former Clerk of the House), Mr. Thomas Tamaraodubo (former accountant), Owudogu Edward (the incumbent Clerk) and Mr. Koroye Stephen (the incumbent accountant).
The CCT’s statement explained that the defence counsel, Mr. Diriyai Dambo (SAN), had earlier requested that the matter be struck out on the grounds that the dispute leading to the institution of the case had been amicably resolved.
The federal government, through the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), had earlier in May this year, charged Benson and his co-defendants with abuse of office following a petition by a member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Israel Goli.
Goli had alleged in his petition that the defendants had unjustifiably refused to pay him some allowances, which were paid to other members of the House since May 2015.
In urging the tribunal to strike out the case, the defence lawyer told the court that the necessary payments had been made to the petitioner and that the petitioner had since withdrawn his petition sent to the CCB.
Responding, the prosecuting counsel, Peter Danladi, told the court that the letter which was written by the petitioner, suggesting the withdrawal of his petition had no effect on the trial and as such the matter would continue.The Chairman of the three-man panel of the CCT, Danladi Umar, rejected the application to have the charges struck out.
He said because the matter was criminal in nature, only the Attorney-General of the Federation through the prosecution team, had the power to withdraw it, and not the petitioner.