Court To Rule Hermen, Azubogu Objection On N44 million Scandal
Rule Hermen, Azubogu Objection On N44 million Scandal. An Abuja High Court, yesterday, slated July 2 to Rule on two separate preliminary objections, seeking to abort the prosecution of the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Other Institutions, Mr. Herman Hembe and his erstwhile deputy, Mr. Chris Ifeanyi Azubogu over their alleged complicity in a N44 million bribery scandal.
Trial Justice Sadiq Umar fixed the date after the embattled lawmakers, yesterday, challenged the powers of the Court to try them on the basis of the two-count charge that was preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
While contending that the Court was bereft of the jurisdiction to compel them to enter plea to a charge they said was grossly incompetent, the accused persons further queried the legal propriety of the leave the Court ab initio granted to the anti-graft agency to dock them.
Relying on the decided case-law in Abacha vs. State and Ikomi vs. State, 1986, 3-NWLR, the lawmakers insisted they would not mount the dock pending the determination of their respective preliminary objections before the court.
Despite frantic efforts by EFCC to persuade the trial Court to take the plea of the accused persons first before delving into the issue of jurisdiction, trial justice Umar declined, stressing that contrary to the position of the prosecuting agency, Section 187 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC, which allows for arraignment of accused persons before hearing of objections, would be inapplicable in the instant case.
Citing the case of El-Rufai vs State, Justice Umar maintained that conceding to the request of EFCC by okaying the lawmakers for the dock yesterday, would be tantamount to “sacrificing justice at the altar of speed.”
Consequently, he overruled EFCC and ordered the accused persons to address him on why the Court cannot try them.
Arguing through his counsel, Chief Jibrin Okutekpa(SAN), Hembe, urged the Court to quash the charge in its entirety, saying the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges is still investigating the uncanny feud that had ensued between him and the Director-General of SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh, whilst he presided over the House panel that probed alleged rot in the capital market.
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