The arraignment of the former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Marlin Sylva and six others before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja did not take place on Tuesday as announced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Sylva was to be re-arraigned following fresh evidence linking him with a bouquet of fraudulent transactions that borders on money laundering during his tenure as governor of Bayelsa State between 2009 and 2012.
The other accused persons are Francis Okuburo, Gbenga S. Balogun, Samuel Ogbuku, Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited and Haloween Blue Construction and Logistics Limited.
Though, the ex-governor was present in court, his counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN objected to his client taking a plea on the grounds that they were not served with hearing notice. He contended that the provision of the law which allows for 7 days before arraignment should be complied with.
Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs however urged his Lordship, Justice A.R Mohammed to proceed with the arraignment since the accused persons were already in court. Besides, he added that the defence already have a proof of evidence and the amended charge. Bur Fagbemi insisted on the defence’s right to a hearing notice.
At this juncture, counsel to the 4th accused person, Ajayi Olowo informed the court that he had filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter and asked for a short adjournment for the motion to be argued. Counsel to other defendants aligned themselves with his submission.
Jacobs however urged the court to take their arguments on the motion orally to save the time of the court and ensure speedy trial. He noted with concern, the antics of the former governor which he claimed are aimed at frustrating his trial and urged the court to do something in the interest of justice.
Consequently, Justice Mohammed adjourned the case to January 23, 2013 for hearing on the notice of preliminary objection.
Sylva and the other accused persons are to be prosecuted on a 42-count amended charge