Alleged $1.6bn Fraud: EFCC Gets Court’s Permission to Tender Additional Evidence Against Omokore

A Federal High Court on Thursday granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), permission to file additional proof of evidence in the trial of Jide Omokore and five others.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in granting the permission,  held that the jurisdiction of courts to try offences is prescribed and dominated by statues.
Delivering ruling on the application by the prosecution to file additional evidences against the defendants, Dimgba stated that going by the amended charge filed by the prosecution, there is no doubt that they are offences creating statutes which gave the court jurisdiction.
He added that the essence of practice direction is not intended to take away jurisdiction of the court even when it had been granted the jurisdictions.
He said Section 379 (2) of the ACJA, provides that the prosecution can at any time before judgement file additional evidence.
“That section does not contain any restriction as to admission of additional evidence, nor does it say that it is only evidence that is placed that can be review”, the court held.
He further held that where additional evidence is brought by the prosecution, the approach is not for the defence to sought for the charge to be dismissed.
“It is for the defendant to sort for more time and this is not what the defendant has asked of the court”, the Judge  stated.
Counsel to Abiye Membere (5th defendant), Folabi Uti, in his argument against the application said that with a new proof of evidence being filed there was need for the defendant to approach the court for interpretation.
“The prosecution have concluded investigation that is why the defendant is in court, bringing more evidence means when the charge was filed investigation was on-going”, he submitted.
Responding, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs(SAN), said the purpose of front loading and serving the defence is to enable them prepare.
He said Sec. 379(2) of Administration and Criminal Justice Act, states that the prosecution can file notice of additional evidence before judgement and there is no time or limit given in the section.
It will be recalled that Omokore was arraigned alongside Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo, on an amended nine count charge of corruption and money laundering.
They were alleged to have diverted the sum of $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds from the sale of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.
Two of Omokore’s companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited, were also joined as defendants.

Author: News Editor

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