Trial of NBA President for money laundering adjourned till May 10

Paul Usoro

Paul Usoro (SAN) President, Nigeria Bar Association

Paul Usoro (SAN) President Nigeria Bar Association

By Akin Kuponiyi.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has adjourned till May 10 hearing of all pending applications filed by counsel representing the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA President, Paul Usoro.

Lawyer representing Akwa-Ibom officials against whom Bench warrant was issued by the court, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said EFCC just filed its counter-affidavit to his client’s motion seeking an order vacating the warrant.

He disclosed that the EFCC’s counter which was filed out-of-time contained series of allegations against his clients which required his response.

Faulting Ozekhome’s claims, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that the proceedings were being regulated by the ACJA and that in the nation’s criminal jurisprudence, there was no law, except specific direction of court, that compelled a party to file a written address.

In his own submissions, the lawyer representing Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom State, Dr. Charles Mekwunye, also informed the court that he was served with EFCC’s counter-affidavit to his motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction on Monday. He sought for time to file his response to the counter.

Usoro’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) had earlier intimated the court about a motion dated 3rd April, 2019, seeking the permanent release of his client’s passport to allow him attend to his foreign engagements.

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While urging the court to grant the motion, he said it has been carefully worded in line with the circumstance of the case.

He also allayed fears about the possibility of the NBA president unavailability for his trial, saying in case of any clash between trial date and his travel date, the trial date would prevail.

Responding to the motion, Oyedepo said he would not be opposing the granting of the motion by the court based on Olanipekun’s undertaken that the trial date ws sacrosanct.

He, however, urged the court to mandate the defendant to notify the EFCC’s Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, anytime he wanted to travel out of the country.

The judge, while ordering the release of Usoro’s passport, however, directed to ensure that Magu was notified anytime he wanted to travel out of the country.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till 10th May, 2019 for hearing of all pending applications.