The re-arraignment of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku’s lawyer, Mr. Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie, for alleged $2million money laundering at the Federal High Court in Lagos was yesterday stalled due to the opposition of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke could not permit Giwa-Osagie’s re-arraignment following a protest by the EFCC
The EFCC told Justice Aneke that it was protesting the Federal High Court Chief judge’s decision to consolidate Giwa-Osagie’s case with the alleged $140,000 laundering case of Atiku’s son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, before the same judge.
Uyiepken and his younger brother Erhunse Giwa-Osagie are being tried before the court on the same charge.
They were arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on August 14, during the court’s long vacation on a three-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering.
They pleaded not guilty.
Following the end of vacation, the case was transferred to and they were re-arraigned before Justice Chuka Obiozor on the same charge.
But before their trial could commence, the Federal High Court merged the Giwa-Osagies’ case with that of Babalele following an application by their lawyers, Ahmed Raji and Norrison Quakers, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).
Babalele is being tried before Justice Aneke.
Justice Aneke fixed today for the Giwa-Osagies’ third arraignment.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo told Justice Aneke that the commission was protesting such consolidation.
He said: “We are protesting that, we have written a letter to Honourable C. J. (Chief Judge) for reassignment of the case to the former judge.
“There is nothing connecting the case pending before this court and this case. It is going to be dangerous if we allow this.
“During the vacation, two cases were assigned to Justice Obiozor, this one and that of Professor Maurice Iwu, but they were transferred.”
Oyedepo said a letter had been written to the Chief Judge seeking a return of the case file to Justice Obiozor.
He prayed the court to adjourn the matter, so that it can be reassigned to the former judge.
But Quakers opposed him. He described Oyedepo’s statement as ‘offensive and out of tune”.
Quakers said: “I find the statement of the prosecutor a bit offensive and put out of tune.
“The court will recall that the matter was transferred based on rule of court and by the Administrative Judge, who in his wisdom transferred the matter based on the connection in the proof of evidence served on us.
“Having consolidated the two charges, all the counsel have to come before this court.”
Quakers prayed the court to discountenance the prosecutor’s request for adjournment.
Justice Aneke adjourned till January 16, for ruling.