Court Declines Lamido’s Application to Transfer His Trial Back to Justice Ademola, Arraigned Afresh on 43-count Amended Charge

Justice Babatunde Quadri of a Federal High Court, Abuja, Friday, declined an application by a former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, that his trial be returned to the former trial Judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
In a ruling Friday morning, Justice Quadri held that to serve the interest of justice and public peace he will not return the case to Justice Ademola.
He also held there might be a misplaced impression of likely bias if the case is returned to Ademola
Justice Ademola, his wife, Olubowale, and Lamido’s lead counsel, Joe Agi, were jointly prosecuted before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory by the Federal Government but were exonerated of all the 18 counts preferred against them on April 5, 2017.
Lamido’s counsel, Agi, had argued before Justice Quadri that since Ademola was back to his court after he was discharged and acquitted on corruption charges, he should continue with the case and that he (Quadri), who was assigned the case by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, during Ademola’s trivial, should hand off .
Agi had argued on the grounds that it would be extremely difficult for the defendants to be subjected to attend trial afresh when the prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had already called 18 witnesses before Justice Ademola’s court.
Arguing the motion on May 24, 2017, on behalf of Agi, Effiong Offiong said the Chief Judge failed to comply with the conditions precedent provided for in sections 98(1) to (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act before transferring the case.
In his response, counsel to the EFCC, Chile Okoroma, opposed the application.
He maintained that with the history of the trial which Justice Ademola and Agi jointly underwent, the Judge’s decision on the outcome of Lamido’s trial would definitely be viewed with biased mind.
Ruling on Friday, Justice Quadri admitted that there was a lacuna in the provisions of section 98(1) to (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, under which the Chief Judge exercised its powers to transfer the case from Justice Ademola to him (Justice Quadri).
Justice Quadri noted that the ACJA did not envisage a situation whereby a trial judge would be suspended on the grounds of undergoing a joint trial along with a defence lawyer in an ongoing criminal case before the judge and later recalled after being exonerated of the charges.
“Section 98 of ACJA is short of remedy to this case,” Justice Quadri ruled.
He however ruled that in order to allow the spring of justice to flow and to avoid any form of “misplaced impression of bias” it was better not to return the case to Justice Ademola.
The Judge however noted that the allegation of likelihood of bias should not be raised to “impugn the integrity” of Justice Ademola and Agi since both of them had been exonerated of the charges preferred against them.
The Judge also granted an accelerated hearing of the case assuring parties in the case that he would do his best to do justice and be fair to all with “utmost sense of responsibility”.
Shortly after the ruling, the prosecuting counsel informed the Judge of the pending amended charges against the defendants.
They were later arraigned on 43-count amended charge. After taking their plea, the Judge granted them bail.
Lamido was granted bail to N100m bond and two sureties with landed properties in Abuja, while others got bail bond of N50m each also with two sureties.
They are to perfect their bail conditions within two months or have it revoked.
The court adjourned to October 18, 19, for continuation of trial.
The defendants are Lamido, Aminu Lamido, Mustapha Lamido, Wada Abubakar, Bamaina holdings limited, Bamaina company Nigeria limited, Bamaina Aluminium limited, Speeds international Limited and Darlington Agoha.
The EFCC had in September 2015 instituted 27 counts of abuse of office and money laundering involving about N1.3bn against the defendants.
But the prosecution on April 14, 2017 filed amended charges of 43 counts.

Author: News Editor

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