Nganjiwa alleges bias, asks court to transfer case file

Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa

Justice Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, Bayelsa Division, has asked the Chief Judge of Lagos state, Justice Opeyemi Oke, to transfer his case file to another judge for trial.

During proceedings yesterday, Nganjiwa through his counsel, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), accused the trial judge of bias in favour of the prosecution. He also sought a court order dismissing the charge, which he said constitute double jeopardy against him.

Justice Nganjiwa is facing a $260,000 and N8.65 million corruption charge, brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Adedayo Akintoye of Igbosere High Court.

His counsel told the court that he has written a letter dated November 10, 2017 to the Administrative Judge seeking the transfer of the matter to another judge. And that he has filed an application objecting to trial of his client before the Judge.

But the EFCC prosecutor, Wahab Shittu, said he was not aware of the defendant’s application and was subsequently served in the court.

In the letter, Clarke said: “the trial judge is presiding over the charge number LD/2544/16, FRN v Rickey Mustapha Tarfa and the counts, facts of the charge against my client are substantially similar to the counts/facts of the charge against Ricky Mustapha Tarfa.

“In essence, my Lord, I am of the view that opinion formed by the learned trial judge as regards charge LD/2544/16 will invariably lead to the same opinion in the information against my client.

“My Lord, as it stands, fair trial in the eye of a reasonable man is likely to be tainted as there is likely of bias.”

However, when Clarke was asked what he meant by bias, he said: “There is a presumption of bias by the trial judge in favour of the prosecution. It is for the judge to decide if a prima facie case has been established against the defendant. But in the case, it is the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) that is saying a prima facie case has been established.”

Clarke also told the court that their application before the court was brought pursuant to section 36 (9) of the constitution and sections 173,175 and 216 of ACJL of Lagos State 2011.

In his response, Shittu described the application as an attempt to frustrate trial. He said the application was also contentious and should not be allowed.
Shittu reminded the court of past attempts by defence to stall trial.

Shittu argued that there was no way the matter in the other matter involving Ricky Tarfa can influence the matter before the court as no decision has been taken on it.

Justice Akintoye has reserved ruling in the matter till November 22.



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