The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has ordered a former Inspector General of Police, Sunday Ehindero back to the High Court to face criminal trial.
Ehindero alongside a former Commissioner of Police in charge of budget, John Obaniyi were earlier arraigned before an Abuja High Court over alleged complicity in the misappropriation of about N557million belonging to the Nigerian Police Force.
They pleaded not guilty to the six-count criminal charge that was preferred against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and consequently admitted to bail.
ICPC maintained that its investigations revealed that the accused persons, diverted the sum of N300million out of N557million that was donated to the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, by the Bayelsa State Government when President Goodluck Jonathan was the Governor. The N557million was donated to the Police Force for the procurement of arms, ammunition and riot control equipment.
ICPC traced the diverted N300million to a fixed deposit account at Wema Bank Plc where it had already yielded an interest of N9.8 million. It was further alleged that the accused persons placed another N200 million in a fixed deposit account at Intercontinental Bank Plc where it has generated an interest of N6.5 million.
The accused persons had filed notices of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court as well as the leave granted the ICPC to file charges against them.
They also prayed the court to quash the six-count charge preferred against them by ICPC.
In his ruling on the objection, the trial judge, Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi dismissed the application and asked the accused to go ahead and face their trial.
Not satisfied the accused persons approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision of the lower court on three grounds:
(1). whether the Abuja High Court had jurisdiction to entertain the charge against him wherein the allegation against him is bordering on the revenue of the Federation vis-a-vis the provision of Section 251 (1) (a) – (f) of the 1999 Constitution.
(2). whether there is a prima facie case linking him to the charge preferred against him by the prosecution, and
(3) whether in view of the constitutional powers of the Attorney General of the Federation AGF enshrined under Section 174(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) , Mr. Paul Bassi, or any other officers of the ICPC, could validly prosecute him without a fiat of the AGF.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal resolved all three issues raised by the Appellant in favour of the prosecution and consequently ordered that the matter be sent back to the Abuja High Court for expeditious hearing.
The Appeal Court also affirmed the decision of the High Court in Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/92/2012 where the said High Court ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the criminal complaint brought against the accused person.
No date has been fixed for the trial.