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Ehindero, Obaniyi urge court to quash charges

01 August 2012, 16:25

Abuja - The former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero, on Wednesday urged the High Court in Maitama, Abuja, to strike out the criminal charge against him.

In the six-count amended charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that Ehindero and Obaniyi conspired between the months of May and November 2006, to defraud the Nigeria Police of N557 million.

The said amount, the ICPC alleged, was donated by the Bayelsa Government to the police to purchase arms/ammunition and riot control equipment.

ICPC further alleged that the interests that accrued from the ``corrupt transaction” were converted into  personal use by the two suspects.

The offence, the ICPC said, contravened Section 26 (1) and punishable under Section 119 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

If convicted the suspects could go to jail for up to seven years.

At the resumed hearing of the suit before Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, Ehindero’s counsel, Mr Benson Igbanio, in a preliminary objection, challenged the competence of the charge.

Igbanoi also challenged the competence of the counsel to ICPC, Paul Bassi, to appear in the matter.

Igbanoi claimed that Bassi had no authority under the law to represent the commission in the matter.

He said it was an exclusive preserve of the Attorney General of the Federation.

Igbanoi also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

In his submissions, counsel to the second suspect (Obaniyi), Mr Abraham Odariko, alligned himself with the objections raised by counsel to Ehindero.

Odariko also prayed the court to quash the charges levelled against his client for want of jurisdiction.

He argued that the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, which the anti-graft agency was using to file the charge was null and void.

Odariko then urged the court to hold that the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2003 was the extant law.

 But countering this argument, ICPC counsel, Bassi, prayed the court to discountenance the issues raised in the preliminary objections filed by the two suspects.

Bassi urged the court to go ahead and assume jurisdiction on the matter and order that Ehindero and Obaniyi be arraigned.

 He said the ICPC Act 2003 had been repealed and could, therefore, not be used as a legal platform for their objections.

Bassi, therefore, faulted the plank upon which the defence counsel based their objection to the arraignment.

The prosecution counsel said that the offences the suspects were charged with were known to written laws, stressing that it was not correct to say they were charged under non-existent law.

Bassi said Ehindero and Obaniyi were brought before the court on the basis of an amended six-count charge and urged the court to allow their immediate arraignment.

The ICPC counsel urged the court to use the exhibits and materials the ICPC provided in determining whether the anti-graft agency had a prima facie case against the suspects.

After listening to the arguments, Oniyangi adjourned the matter to Sept. 21 for ruling on whether Ehindero and Obaniyi could be arraigned.


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