18th March, 2011
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja capital of Nigeria, on Friday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to produce the petition upon which it commenced its investigations into the alleged diversion ofÂ N2 billion by three top officials ofÂ Bayelsa State.
Justice Donatus Okorowo gave this order following a request by Chief Chris Uche, a senior advocate of Nigeria representing two of the three accused persons while cross examining the prosecution witness 1, Mr. Adebayo Adeniyi, an Investigator with the anti graft agency.
The court also ordered the anti-graft commission to avail the defence counsel with the letter of offer issued by Union Bank for the N2 billion loan to the Bayelsa State government meant for the augmentation of workers’ salaries.
According to Justice Okorowo, “the defence counsel is entitled to be given the documents which the witness agreed exists to enable them carry out their defence. The prosecution is hereby directed therefore to produce, for the defence counsel, the petition upon which this charge was initiated and the letter of offer from Union Bank”.
The judge further directed the defence counsel to write to prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo for any other documents they may need to rely on to defend the accused persons.
The EFCC had earlier filed a six-count criminal charge against four Bayelsa officials but at the last hearing, it withdrew charge against the Accountant General, Francis Okokuro.
The commission accordingly filed a fresh charge against the remaining three officials which include the Director of Treasury in Government House, Mr. Abbot T. Clinton, and Director of Finance in the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, Mr. Ikobho Anthony Howells and Dr Charles Sylva Opuala.
The court subsequently adjourned the matter till Wednesday 11 May 2011 for continuation of hearing.
By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja