Alex Enumah in Abuja
A mild drama played out in court on Tuesday as Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the investigation of a police lawyer, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over a criminal charge instituted against Senator Stella Oduah.
Justice Omotosho made the order to clarify whether the anti-graft agency was in the know of the suit since it was being prosecuted by the police.
Senator Oduah was expected to be arraigned before the court on an eight-count charge bordering on alleged complicity surrounding her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate and fraudulently receiving money from the federal government.
However, when the matter was called, Oduah was not in court.
Responding, Mohammed, who introduced himself as a lawyer with the Police Legal Department, Force Headquarters, Abuja, told the court that the defendant was not in court because she has not been served with the charge.
According to him, Oduah had told them she was not feeling well when invited to come for the charge.
Reacting, Omotosho while expressing doubt about the status of the person standing before him, queried why the charge is coming from the EFCC.
Mohammed replied that it was as a result of human error, disclosing that he was seconded to the anti-graft agency but returned to the police last November, adding that he only resumed at the police legal department on January 23, this year.
When asked if the anti-graft agency was aware of the charge, the prosecutor answered in the negative, explaining that he filed the charge mistakingly with his EFCC’s address in Benin City, Edo State.
Not satisfied, Justice Omotosho held that he would need some clarification from the commission concerning the status of the lawyer, as well as the filing of the charge.
He consequently called on police personnel attached to the court to accompany the lawyer to the office of the EFCC with an order on the commission to “investigate the fact and report back on July 18”.
According to the judge, the prosecution lawyer admitted been disengaged from the EFCC since November and yet could file a charge in the name of EFCC seven months after.