Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The trial of Kenny Martins, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged N7.74billion Police Equipment Fund (PEF) fraud, has been rescheduled till June 30, 2020.
Justice Modupe Adebiyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, had earlier scheduled April 28, 2020, for the trial.
But the April 28 date was not feasible in the light of the shutdown of courts by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, following the lockdown in Abuja and many other parts of the country to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The EFCC is prosecuting Martins, as the coordinator of the Police Equipment Fund, for allegedly conniving with three others to perpetrate the alleged fraud.
Justice Mohammed Talba, then of FCT High Court in Gudu, Abuja, now elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, had on November 24, 2009, discharged Martins and his co-defendants in his judgment on the no-case submission filed by them.
But the EFCC appealed against the judgment.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on June 28, 2012, upheld EFCC’s appeal. The court, in its lead judgment read by Justice Regina Nwodo, held that Justice Talba of the FCT High Court erred by discharging the defendants.
The court ordered the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court to reassign the case to another judge for re-trial, the anti-graft agency said in a statement.
Not satisfied, the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court. The apex court, in its judgment on March 23, 2018, affirmed the Court of Appeal’s verdict and ordered the re-trial of the case.
The EFCC subsequently amended and filed three count charges in Charge No: CR/267/18 at the FCT high court. Three others charged along with Martins are: Ibrahim Dumuje, Yero Gella and Nigerstalg Limited.
One of counts filed on behalf of the commission by John Ainetor of Festus Keyamo’s Chambers reads: “That you, Kenny Martins ‘M’; Ibrahim Dumuje, ‘M’; Yero Gella ‘M’, and Nigerstalg Limited on or about May 18, 2007, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the FCT, being entrusted with the sum of N7. 7 billion property of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and the federal government, dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N5.9 billion of the said sum of N7.7 billion in violation of the agreement between you on one hand and the said Association of Local Government of Nigeria, and Federal Government of Nigeria on the other; that the entire said sum of N7, 740, 000, 000. 00 should be used to procure equipment for the Nigerian Police Force, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 312 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja) 1990.”