N25bn scam: EFCC lacks power to try Goje without AGF’s fiat –SAN
From PAUL ORUDE, Bauchi
Wednesday May 09, 2012

Counsel to Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), yesterday told the Federal High Court sitting in Gombe, Gombe State that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lacks power to prosecute his client and three others.

The four were arraigned over allegations of money laundering and embezzlement of funds brought against them by the anti-graft agency.
During the hearing yesterday, the defence counsel maintained that it was only the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF), according to the established law, that had the power to prosecute criminal cases and further challenged the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Wahab Kunle Shittu to prove the authority he had to prosecute his client.

The defence counsel maintained that until the prosecuting counsel tendered evidence that showed that the office of the AGF had empowered the EFCC to try his clients, yesterday’s trial would be unnecessary and a waste of time. He urged the court to dismiss the case in the absence of any authority.
Akintola, who led 11 other lawyers argued that in a case of that nature, Section 147 of Nigeria’s Constitution made it fundamental for the prosecuting lawyers, especially private lawyers to tender a fiat from the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

The defence counsel submitted that it was not only fundamental for the prosecutor, who is a private lawyer to do so, but the accused persons also had the right to see the fiat as well as be satisfied with it. And that must take place before the commencement of the trial. He stressed that the court was also empowered by law to demand for it.

The leading counsel, who cited several authorities of both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to drive home his argument, averred that no matter how well the case might be conducted and decided, the absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation’s fiat would render the proceeding a nullity and waste of time of the court.
According to him, only the AGF was empowered under the constitution to initiate and prosecute the case on behalf of the Federal Government but could however, issue a fiat in the case of his absence.
Reacting, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Wahab Shittu told the court that EFCC had the power to arrest and prosecute criminal suspects.

Shittu also told the court that it was surprising to suddenly hear the defence counsel come up with the issue of fiat since the establishment of the case, insinuating that it amounted to a deliberate move to stifle the progress of the court on the matter.
He, however, urged the court to note that he brought five witnesses to court to testify against the accused persons.
When it appeared that there was nothing more to do in the absence of any authority mandating the EFCC to prosecute the accused, Mr. Shittu agreed to approach the relevant authority for such evidence and asked for more time.
The argument led to the adjournment of the matter to July 3, 4, 5 and 6 by the Judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri for continued hearing.

Goje, now a serving Senator of the Federal Republic is the immediate past governor of the state.
He is standing trial alongside three others, Alhaji Ubandoma El-Nafaty former chairman, Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alh. Sabo Tumu, former food supplier to government house and Alhaji S.A Dokoro, who were alleged to have conspired to steal Gombe State Government money to the tune of N25 billion between May 2003 and May 2011, when the first accused held sway as the governor of the state.

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