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My Trial Is Abuse of Court Process – Chidi Duru


Chidi Duru, who is standing trial for allegedly diverting N16m pension fund, asked the court Monday to strike out the charges against him on the ground that the trial is a gross abuse of court process and against the principle of natural justice.
Duru is facing a four-count criminal charge of diverting N16m pension fund brought against him by the Federal Government.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on February 7, 2017, slammed a four-count corruption charge bordering on alleged fraud.
Part of the charge alleged that the former lawmaker sometime in July 2010 was entrusted with certain properties worth N15m in payment of 30% equity shares of First Guarantee Pension Ltd, sold to Novare Holding Proprietor Ltd and committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum by diverting same to pay for land allocation from Lagos State Government in favour of Grand Towers Plc and MVJJDA African Ltd, which he (Duru) had interest, thereby committing an offence punishable under section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation.
But in a preliminary objection filed against the charge, Monday, the former lawmaker told Justice Peter Affen of an Abuja High Court, that the EFCC had earlier arraigned him in Lagos on the same alleged fraud and later withdrew the charges.
In the objection argued by his counsel, Abdul Mohammed, Duru submitted that apart from the charge brought against him in Lagos on the same issue, the police in Abuja arraigned him before a magistrate court on the same issue.
According to him, the charge was quashed by the court upon been told of a pending appeal in respect of the trial.
He further submitted that a Federal High court sitting in Lagos had on July 18, 2012 in a judgment delivered by Justice Donatus Okoro nullified and set aside the Target Examination Report on which the charge came about.
Duru drew the attention of the court to an order of injunction granted against the EFCC by Justice Gabriel Kolawole in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/61/13 in respect of a civil matter in which the Judge ordered that status quo be maintained in the matter.
He therefore applied for an order prohibiting the EFCC from further prosecuting the instant charge or any order charge against him or seeking any form of indulgence before the court or any other court in Nigeria because of the abuse of court process.
“The suit is an abuse of the process of the court in view of the pendency of the appeals at the supreme court and the court of appeals, challenging the validity or otherwise of the Target Examination Report which forms the fulcrums of the charge”, he said.
However, the EFCC Counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, raised an objection.
He stated that the Federal High Court did not grant any injunction against the EFCC but only ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter.
The prosecution further argued that the charge was not based on the Target Examination Report but on its own independent investigation and urged the court to refuse the request to strike out the charge.
Justice Affen after taken arguments from both parties reserved ruling till a date that will be communicated to parties in the matter.

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