Lagos - Two oil marketers, Aro Bamidele and Abiodun Bankole, on Thursday challenged the jurisdiction of a Lagos High Court in Ikeja to hear the alleged theft of N1.3 billion fuel subsidy charge against them.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the marketers made this known in a preliminary notice of objection filed by their counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN).
Bamidele and Abiodun were arraigned alongside their company, A.B.S Investment Company Ltd., on Oct. 5, before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.
The defendants are facing an 18-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and uttering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the defendants had fraudulently obtained N1.3 billion from the Federal Government for the purported importation of 30 million litres of Premium Motor Spirits (PMS).
At Thursday's proceedings, Idigbe in the application dated Nov. 20, 2012, also argued that the charges preferred against the accused were “grossly defective.”
He said:"The Federal Government lacks the locus standi to prosecute the offences contained in the charges preferred against the defendants in this court.
"The court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the charges. The entire charge is grossly defective and incurably bad because no fiat was obtained from the attorney general of Lagos State."
Idigbe further argued that the prosecution counsel (EFCC) has no competence to prosecute the defendants before the court.
Responding, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court that the prosecution was served with the application a few days ago and needed time to prepare their response.
The judge consequently adjourned the matter till Dec. 21 for mention.