The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja could not commence the trial of the former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) due to the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to supply names and particulars of witnesses in the corruption charges filed against Adoke by the Federal Government.
Adoke, alongside an oil magnate, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar are standing trial on a 14- count amended criminal charge bordering on money laundering of about N4billion.
The trial was however stalled as the anti-graft agency was alleged to have breached section 379(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, as it failed to supply the defendants with the identities and summary of the witnesses it intends to call for prosecution.
EFCC had sought to kick start the trial with its counsel, Bala Sanga calling his first witness, one Clement Osagie, an official of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who was on a subpoena to the witness box.
However, Chief Olalekan Ojo (SAN), counsel to the second defendant, objected to the witness on the grounds that he was unknown to his client as a witness of the EFCC in the trial.
Ojo drew the attention of the court to the charge and proof of evidence, adding that in breach of the enabling law, the prosecution did not list any of its witnesses and also failed to attach a summary of the witnesses statements as required by law.
He cited section 379 of the ACJA in his argument and added that in line with the provision of the section, the EFCC ought to supply names and particulars of the witnesses to the defendants to enable them to prepare their defence adequately.
He insisted that fair trial demanded that the defendants must know those that will testify against them in a criminal matter.
Ojo accordingly urged the court to compel the prosecution to do the needful before the trial can commence.
Responding, Sanga, who informed the court that he got to know about the witness only on Monday evening, conceded to the argument and prayed the court for a short adjournment to comply with the law.
The trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a short ruling adjourned the trial to August 13, 2020, and ordered the prosecution to serve the defendants with all the particulars, processes that they are entitled to within 24 hours.
Adoke and his co-defendant have however pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
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