Lawyers disagree over EFCC, AGF right to prosecute suspects
Lawyers representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) yesterday engaged in arguments at the Federal High Court in Lagos over who to prosecute the case involving16 suspects accused of multi-billion fraud at the Consolidated Discount House Limited.
Justice Mohammed Idris had, on February 23, ordered them to sort out who between them should prosecute the case, but the issue was not resolved, thereby stalling the suspects’ arraignment.
A lawyer, D.C. Enwelum, who appeared with Adedayo Adedeji for the AGF, said he filed a motion on notice praying the court to resolve the issue.
In the application, a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Joseph Daudu (SAN), Damian Dodo (SAN), Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) and Enwelum said they were given a fiat by the AGF last May 5 to prosecute the suspects.
Daudu, through a supporting affidavit deposed to by Adedeji, said after they were issued the fiat, the team of lawyers held extensive meetings and brainstorming sessions, prepared and filed three charge sheets on the AGF’s behalf.
He said after filing the charges, they were forwarded to the EFCC to help serve the accused persons with them and to facilitate their arraignment in court.
Daudu said surprisingly, when the case came up on February 23, a lawyer from EFCC, A.B.C Ozioko, announced appearance for the prosecution.
Ozioko had insisted that EFCC would prosecute the suspects, arguing that the suspects were in its custody.
But Daudu said in the light of the subsisting fiat, no other person or agency can prosecute the accused persons except those authorised to do so by the AGF.
“The action of A.B.C Ozioko constitutes a nuisance to the proceedings and amounts to gross misconduct and abuse of the court processes and proceedings,” Daudu said.
The senior advocate said allowing the EFCC lawyer to prosecute the case would amount to a flagrant abuse of the AGF’s constitutional powers.
Daudu is praying for an order directing that the private lawyers who filed the charges are entitled to represent the AGF.
He also wants the court to order that the fiat precludes every other lawyer from prosecuting the case except the AGF himself.
Daudu also sought an order restraining Ozioko, or any other EFCC lawyer, from interfering with the case.
Justice Idris, therefore, adjourned till March 18 for hearing of Daudu’s application.
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