Court grants ex-lawmaker’s application for transfer of alleged bribery case
Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court, Jabi on Tuesday granted the application of Farouk Lawan seeking transfer of his case from Justice Angela Otaluka of FCT Lugbe High Court.
The judge will now hear the case in his court from 24 October.
Lawan is facing prosecution for receiving $600,000 bribe, from oil mogul, Femi Otedola during a probe by the House of Representatives of the scandalous oil subsidy regime during the Jonathan era.
Mr. Otedola’s companies, Zenon and Synopsis, allegedly paid Mr Lawan bribes to get their names off the indictment roll of the House.
The judge said that the administration of criminal justice must be followed in the interest of justice, adding that the transfer of cases from one court to the other remains the administrative powers of the Chief Judge.
Lawan’s lawyer had petitioned the Chief Judge of FCT, Ishaq Bello, alleging bias and lack of confidence in Otaluka’s court.
He argued that the Chief Judge of the FCT has the prerogative to reassign cases, based on Section 168 of the Administration of Criminal Justice.
Justice Halilu, however, said that the Chief Judge did not need to consult anyone to take any action. He thus dismissed the counter-application by the prosecutor, for lack of merit and authority.
He said that the administration of criminal justice system has to do with the liberty of the citizens.
“This matter has been transferred back and forth and this is not good for the image of the bar and the bench, though the prosecutor has the right to appeal against the judgment.
“The court has no interest in this case other than to ensure that justice must not only be done but it must be seen to have been done,” he said.
Mr Jude Odi, the prosecuting counsel, said that he would require time and a specific instruction from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to go ahead with the matter based on the court ruling.
He asked for time to brief the office of the AGF. He said the ruling has made it necessary to consult his principal.
He said he could not proceed with the case because he was not prepared to do so.
Mr Sekup Zumka, Counsel to the defendant said that there was no legal basis for the court to defer an arraignment to a later day, adding that the court could proceed after its ruling.
According to him, taking the plea of the defendant does not signify a miscarriage of justice; there must be significant ground for adjournment.
“I hereby urge the court to dismiss the application of the prosecuting counsel and proceed on arraignment.
Justice Halilu, however, granted the prayer of the prosecuting counsel and adjourned arraignment till Oct 24.