The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, May 8th , 2012, accused a former governor of Gombe state, Danjuma Goje and four others standing trial on an 18 count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering amounting to N25billion belonging, of deliberately delaying their trial at the Federal High Court sitting in Gombe, Gombe state.
The other four accused persons are Aliyu El- Nafaty, Sambo Tumu, S.M. Dakoro and S.M. Dakoro Gombe (a company). They were first arraigned on Monday, October 17th, 2011.
At the resumed hearing of the case before Hon Justice Babatunde Quadri, defence counsel, Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, opposed an attempt by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu, to proceed on trial by calling his witnesses for cross examination.
Adeniyi had urged the court to request Wahab Shittu to show to his clients and the court, an evidence of prosecutorial authority from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before the commencement of trial. He buttressed his position with references to related matters that have been settled at the High Courts, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Courts in this regard.
Citing the 1999 Constitution, Akintola said it is only the AGF and Minister of Justice that can prosecute a criminal case on behalf of the state or do so through the instrumentality of a fiat. He finally submitted that the only locus the prosecutor can have is to produce a fiat, duly signed by the AGF before the court, the absence of which implies an absence of authority to proceed in the trial thereby denying the accused persons and the court the right to know. Akintola opted for the court in the present circumstance to dismiss the charge against the accused persons.
But in his response, Shittu urged the court to take judicial notice that the prosecution is ready to proceed with the trial by calling witnesses already in court. He contended that the objection was only raised in the court orally, without a pre-judicial notice. He accused the defence of ploy to deliberately delay proceedings. Shittu also wondered why the defence did not query his authority in earlier appearances; as according to him, “I see this as an attempt to stall the case, even for the third time.”
He told the court that he could not have proceeded with the brief in the first instance, if he did not have such authority. But in order not to waste the time of the court in ruling on arguments and proof of evidence, he prayed the court for an adjournment to produce the authority.
Honourable Justice Quadri obliged him and adjourned to July 3, 4, 5, and 6, 2012, for definite hearing of prosecution witnesses and accelerated trial.
While the drama lasted in the courtroom, some students of Gombe State Students Association, drawn from some tertiary institutions in the state, thronged the Federal High Court in Gombe protesting against any delay or subversion of justice as it happened in the case of erstwhile governor of Delta State , James Onanefe Ibori.
The students, who were driven back from gaining entrance to the court by security men, demanded for progress in the prosecution of Goje, claiming they were delays in the hearing of the case.
Media & Publicity Unit
8th May, 2012.