Prince Abubakar Audu Loses Bid to Quash Fraud Charge
A Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, yesterday, refused an application by former Governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, urging it to quash charges of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy against him. Consequently upon this, the trial judge, Justice O. A. Adeniyi, adjourned the criminal case to November 12, 13 and 14 for definite hearing.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had preferred a 36-charge against Audu and Mr. Alfa Ibn Mustapha.
According to the charge sheet dated March 8, the EFCC alleged, among others, that the former governor, “on or about 6th day of February 2001 at Kogi State Judicial Division by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained from Kogi State Directorate of Rural Development, the sum of N6,263,000 purporting same to be partpayment made to Leoflinch Nigeria Limited in respect of a contract allegedly awarded by Kogi State Directorate of Rural Development…”
The offence, the antigraft agency added, was punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act N0.13 of 1995 as amended by Act N0. 62 of 1999. It also alleged that Audu obtained N41 million from Kogi State Directorate of Rural Development, “purporting same to be part-payment made to Leoflinch Nigeria Limited in respect of a contract allegedly awarded by Kogi State Directorate of Rural Development…”
In a preliminary objection, however, the accused, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the court to quash the charges on grounds of lack of territorial jurisdiction as well as abuse of court process.
Ozekhome had submitted that the High Court of Kogi State was the proper court to try the 1st accused, since he was alleged to have committed the offence in the state. In his ruling, Adeniyi dismissed all the objections.
He agreed with prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), that there was no similar case pending before a Kogi Sttae High Court to warrant an “abuse of court process”. The judge held that both Attorney General of the Federation and that of the state had filed a nolle prosequi, thereby pronouncing the case dead.
Adeniyi added that the Supreme Court acknowledged this in its well-considered decision on an appeal that emanated from the case. He said: “Filing a fresh charge in this court cannot constitute an abuse of court process.
“I am abundantly satisfied that certain elements of the charge occurred in Abuja; both courts are competent to handle this case.”