5th July, 2010
There seems to be no respite for Senator Nicholas Ugbane, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power and his House Committee counterpart, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, as their their bid to truncate their trial over an alleged involvement in the 5.2 billion naira Rural Electrification Agency contract scams suffered a setback today in Abuja.
The duo had filed separate applications seeking for the quashing of the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in relation to the alleged crime.
The two legislators had argued that under the principle of Legislative Immunity they cannot be charged to court for carrying out their legislative functions.
They also complained that there was no iota of evidence in the proof of evidence attached to their charges linking them to the award of the contract which was an executive function of the Rural Electrification Agency which is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In delivering the rulings on both applications, Justice Garba Mohammed Umar noted that at this preliminary stage, the only thing of interest to the court is whether there is anything in the proof of evidence that requires an explanation from the accused persons and whether there is a prima facie evidence against the duo.
He also noted that in an application to quash charges, caution must be taken not to delve into the substance of the case but only to establish whether or not a prima facie case has been established against the accused persons.
He held that indeed that there is evidence contained in the proof of evidence which required explanation from the accused which can only be addressed in the course of the trial.
He advised the accused persons to go and prepare for their defence as a prima facie case has been established against them.
Justice Umar subsequently dismissed their applications.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja