Alleged N254m Bribe: Omokore, Senator Bassey Challenge Jurisdiction of Special Offences Court to Try Them

Billionaire businessman, Jide Omokore and Senator Albert Bassey, representing Akwa-Ibom North East, have challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos State Special Offences Court to try them over N254m fraud allegation against them by the Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Bassey was to be arraigned by the EFCC before the court for allegedly taking a bribe of 12 cars said to worth N254m during his tenure as the Akwa Ibom State’s Commissioner for Finance.
He was to be arraigned alongside an oil marketer, Omokore, giver of the bribe, on 14 counts bordering on corruption.
However, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo adjourned to February 20 for a ruling on the matter.
This was after the defence counsel, Solomon Umoh (SAN) and Olatunde Adejuyigbe (SAN), informed the court that they had earlier filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear their case.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, while moving their applications, the counsel contended that the court had no power to hear the substantive case.
Bassey’s counsel, Umoh, argued that there was nothing before the court to prove that the alleged crime against Bassey was committed outside Akwa Ibom or in Lagos State.
He said: “There is nothing in the proof of evidence that suggested that any aspect of the alleged crime against the first defendant was committed outside Akwa Ibom State or in Lagos State. Happily, the prosecution has narrowed everything down that it was cars that was delivered to the first defendant by the second defendant.
“So, we want to ask where the cars were delivered to so we can know what Lagos has to do with Akwa Ibom State but we have provided the answers in our argument, the cars were delivered in Akwa Ibom State.
“If he (Bassey) received the cars in Akwa Ibom State, how come they are coming to try him in Lagos State?
“The prosecution has not shown how the first defendant came to Lagos to receive the vehicles. They have not shown it anywhere in the proof of evidence.”
Umoh, who further argued that the senator’s name was not mentioned in the petition written to the EFCC, urged the court to grant his application.
Similarly, Omokore’s counsel, Adejuyigbe, argued that the contending issue was not insufficient of evidence but whether they were in the right court.
He further argued that in determining the issue of jurisdiction, the court was not bound by the place stated in the charge.
He said: “The count against the second defendant relates to receiving gratification or giving a bribe and the section under which those counts were charged did not state name of purchase, place of purchase, and mode of payment ,so we cannot be asking the court to rewrite the law.”
However, the prosecution counsel, Sadisu Abubakar, argued that the EFCC had the right to try the case before the court.
He added that the applicants tied the issue of jurisdiction to the issue of insufficiency of evidence, which he noted, was an abuse of the court processes.
The Judge adjourned till February 20 for ruling on the issue of jurisdiction raised by the defence counsel.

Author: News Editor

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