Five medical doctors in Edo State, who are facing trial over N21.7m fraud, have asked the High Court in Benin-City, to quash criminal charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on grounds that it has no jurisdiction to try them.
The Accused persons, who are facing a 21-count charge, are challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
The accused, Emmanuel Ighodaro (Chairman), Anthony Owolabi, Quincy Atoghengbe, Raymond Ogieva and Oseremen Gabriel Ogbebor, former executive members of the Edo State branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), between 2013 and 2014, were on January 31, arraigned by the anti-graft agency, for alleged conspiracy to commit felony, fraudulent false accounting and stealing of about N21.7m belonging to the state branch of the NMA.
At the resumed trial on Tuesday, counsel to the EFCC, Ben Ubi, told the court that counsel to the defendants have filed separate applications, seeking its leave to quash the case as well as challenging court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
“This case was slated for trial today and in the course of preparing for trial, the defendants served us with four separate applications seeking to quash the information and also challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
“Just this morning we were also served with another application by the 5th defendant for the same purposes. We took date to enable us react to the applications so that the Judge can come to a proper findings at the end of the arguments,” Ubi said.
Also reacting, Belinda Okoduwa, counsel to the 5th Defendant, said they filed applications seeking the leave of the Court to quash the charge because it is incompetent.
The EFCC however asked for adjournment to enable it respond to the applications, which the defendants did not object.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Efe Ikponwmonba, thereafter adjourned the case to March 20, 2018, for definite hearing.
It would be recalled that the accused persons had on the day of arraignment, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
In the charge sheet, the EFCC alleged that the offences were punishable under section 516, section 435(2)C), section 435(2)b), section 390(7) and section 390(9) of the criminal code.
It also alleged that the accused had between 2013 and 2014 conspired to make a false entry in the audit report for the accounting year, ended August 1st, 2013 to July 31, 2014 of the association inserted “anticipatory income” in the report to cover a loan of N6 million yet to be received.