14th December, 2017
Former Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, has filed an application before a Federal High Court, in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria to decline jurisdiction in trying him in a charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over an alleged N5.3 billion fraud.
The presiding Judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor, had on December 4, issued a bench warrant against the former Governor and one of his aide Sunday Onyekazuru Anyaogu, for their failure to appear before the court to take their pleas on the criminal charge filed against them by the EFCC,that is pending before the court
At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, Nnamani’s lawyer, Abubakar Samusudeen told the court of his client’s application for the Judge to decline jurisdiction in the trial of his client.
Nnamani is seeking the court’s declaration that it lacks jurisdictional competence, to try him and or determine the offences contained in charge No. FHC/L/90c/07, between Federal Republic of NIgeria vs Chimaroke Nnamani and eight others, in respect of which a plea agreement was reached between the parties the charge leading to the institution and determination of amended charge marked FHC/L/09c/2007A, between FRN vs. Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, dated July 7, 2015.
Nnamani also prayed the court for an order setting aside charge no. FHC/09c/2007, FRN vs. Chimaroke Nnamani and eight others, whether on original or amended form, and an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it’s agents, privies, or any other persons deriving power from the Federal government of Nigeria from inviting, instituting, maintaining or otherwise prosecuting them in respect of charge no. FHC/L/09c/07, between FRN vs Chimaroke Nnamani and eight others and an order staying their arraignment in the said charge weather in its original or amended form, pending the hearing and determination of their application.
Samusudeen also pleaded with the court to withdrawal the bench warrant issued against the second defendant in the charge, Sunday Anyaogu, whom he said came to court voluntarily.
He told the court that the second defendant was not aware that the matter will come up at the last adjournment date, and that when he informed him he made himself available before the court. He therefore urged the court to withdraw the bench warrant against the second defendant.
Responding to Nnamani’s application, EFCC lawyer, Kelvin Uzozie, told the court that he was just being served with the application, and that there is an issue of law that is contained in the application.
Consequently, the EFCC lawyer urged the court for a short adjournment to enable the agency respond to the Nnamani’s application.
Ruling on the application, Justice Obiozor, adjourned the matter till January 19, for hearing and determination of Nnamani’s application, as well as taking the plea of the accused persons.
The judge, however, stated that the bench warrant on Nnamani subsist, while withdrawing that of Sunday Anyaogu .
The case has been handled by Justices Tijani Abubakar, Charles Archibong (retired.), and Mohammed Yunusa, who was suspended by the National Judicial Council.
The trial has been stalled since July 5, 2015, when some of the defendants entered into a plea bargain and forfeited their assets to the Federal Government.