Alleged N360m bribe: INEC officials challenge court’s jurisdiction
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday adjourned till April 7, hearing of an application filed by 23 INEC officials challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the bribery case filed against them.
The 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were docked for allegedly receiving N360million from Gov. Nyesom Wike of River during the Dec. 10, 2016 re-rerun election in River. They were dragged to court on a seven- count charge bordering on money laundering and economic crimes.
The defendants are Shittu Lamido, Henry Owokure, Peter Ewatade, Mrs Mary Pennap, Gwatana Jibril, Ivase Stephen, Abdullahi Ogabo, Gayus Hassan, Hussaina Yahaya and James Oqwuche. Others are: Karimu Aminu, Adedokun Ayotunde, Najeem Ayotunde, Balogun Funmilayo,Adams Kadiri, Akinwande Adesoji, Lukeman Olabimpe and Tiamiyu Arowolo.
The rest are: Akinwoye Amodu, Nwoha Yusuf, Patrick Anuke, Iro Abali, Nwosu Olucchi and Arukwe Chinelo.
When the matter was called up for a mention, Mr A.A Halilu, Assistant Chief State Counsel for the prosecution, told the court that all the defendants were present and they were ready for the matter.
Mr Ahmed Raji, counsel to the 1st to 20th defendants, however, informed the court of his application which he filed, questioning the territorial jurisdiction of the court in the matter.
Mr Raji said the offence took place in Port Harcourt, while their arraignment took place in Abuja. He also said that the defendants were not resident in Abuja and urged the court to hear the application.
The other defence counsel, Mr Ukpan Ukaiso and Mr E. A. Nwagwa aligned themselves with the argument of Raji. The prosecution said they were aware of the issue of jurisdiction raised and ready to respond.
Justice John Tsoho adjourned the matter till April 7 to hear the application.