Henry Ojelu

Mahmud Tukur, son of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s chairman, Bamanga Tukur today challenged the jurisdiction of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos to try him over an alleged fuel subsidy fraud, on a day the trial was to commence.

Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochonogor, Eterna Oil and Abdullahi Alao are facing a nine count charge of fuel subsidy fraud amounting to about N1.8 billion.

At the commencement of their trial on the charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the court presided by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, Tukur maintained that only a Federal High Court has jurisdiction over the matter.

Tukur’s position was contained in a motion filed today by his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN).

The motion contends that the matter for which he is being charged related to the revenue of the Federation on which only the Federal High Court has jurisdiction.

Tukur also alleged that the sub stratum of the charge is within the Admiralty/ Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court and that the criminal charge was not instituted in accordance with procedural due process.

The motion, Chief Olanipekun said was not prejudicial to the ongoing negotiation with the prosecution on the matter.

But EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), whose witnesses were in court preparatory to the trial expressed worries for not continuing with the matter today.

Jacobs, who voiced his frustration over the delay also denied knowledge of any negotiation with the first, second and third defendants in the matter.

He said; “My Lord , I am not aware of this development, the instruction I received from my clients is to go with the case. If they are ready to take the application, I am ready to take it orally. It is just a question of law, since the defence did not file any written submission.

Olanipekun later asked for time to enable him file his written submission to save time.

He also reaffirmed that discussion was ongoing but would not want to waive their right for objection.

Also counsel to Abdullahi Alao (the fourth defendant), Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) aligned himself with the position of Olanipekun and called for time to respond to the motion. served on him in the court.

After listening the counsel, Justice Onigbanjo vacated the earlier trial date and adjourned till 28 May for hearing of the motion seeking to quash the charges.