A fresh application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stalled ruling on Monday on two pending applications in a suit filed by the commission against former Bayelsa state governor, Timipre Sylva.
Sylva is accused of fraudulently conniving with Francis Okonkwo, Gbenga Balogun and Samuel Ogbuku to use three companies – Marlin Maritime Ltd, Eat Catering Services Ltd, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Ltd to defraud Bayelsa State.
They are said to have to moved N19.2 billion from the treasury of Bayelsa State government between 2009 and 2012, under false pretense of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.
At Monday’s sitting, meant for ruling on the pending applications, the presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed could not proceed due to letters forwarded to him by the EFCC.
“This matter was reserved for ruling, but the court got a letter from Rotimi Jacobs, the prosecution counsel, that another suit marked FHC/CR/23/2012, FRN v Sylva and others, which was pending before Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja has been withdrawn on 1st June by the prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecution and same was struck out.
“On June 4, Rotimi Jacobs filed an ‘affidavit of fact’ stating the development and that there is no more any charge before Justice Chukwu against the accused person,” he said.
Justice Mohammed said the EFCC’s lawyer’s letter stated that the DPP withdrew prosecution in Justice Chukwu’s court in order to consolidate the charge with the pending charge before him.
The court further said Chief Fagbemi wrote on June 4 in reaction to the EFCC’s letter, submitting that the charge before Justice Mohammed was filed latter in time and therefore constitutes an abuse of court process.
He had contended that the suit against his client before Justice Chukwu was withdrawn to give way for the one pending before Justice Mohammed.
He, therefore, filed a counter-affidavit of facts against the EFCC’s affidavit, urging the court to quash the charges.
“There is nothing linking the 1st accused person (Sylva) to the charges,” Fagbemi had argued on behalf of his client.
Mr Ajayi Olowo, the counsel to the 4th accused person, on his aprt, had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit saying it was an abuse of court process.