THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday accused former House of Representatives Speaker, Dimeji Bankole and his deputy, Usman Nafada, of delaying trial in the N40 billion loan scam.
The accusation was made before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Abuja, following the defence counsel’s plea for leave to file an application for a no-case-submission.
Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), one of the defence lawyers, had said that they just received the court’s record of proceedings of the evidence led by the prosecution and that after reading it, they needed time to prepare their submissions.
Bankole and Nafada who were arraigned on Monday, June 13, 2011, on a 17-count charge of criminal breach of trust, misappropriation and theft, were to enter into defence today.
But at the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, Oyetibo pleaded for time, which, however, prosecution counsel, Festus Keyamo, described as an attempt to further delay the trial of the case, which the presiding judge, Justice Suleiman Belgore, had promised to conclude before the end of the year.
Consequently, Belgore told the defence team to file their written addresses on the no-case-submission and the prosecution to reply before the next adjourned date of January 16, 2012.
Meanwhile, three pieces of evidence were tendered against former FCT minister, Nasir el-Rufai, by the EFCC yesterday. Acting Head of Media and Publicity at EFCC, Wilson Uwajaren, told journalists that three documents were tendered as exhibits in the prosecution of the former minister and two others.
The two other accused persons arraigned with El-Rufai before a High Court of the FCT, presided over by Justice Sadiq Abubakar Umar, are former Director-General, Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, Altine Jubrin and former General Manager, AGIS, Ismail Iro.
At the hearing of the case, the prosecution presented the first witness, Engr. Mohammed Sani Alhassan, a former Executive Secretary in Engineering Department of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA. Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Adebayo Adelodun, SAN, Alhassan told the court that he had advised El-Rufai against diverting the plot of land allocated to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) other than the purpose for which it was allocated, “but the former Minister ignored my advice.”
El-Rufai was made to understand that converting the plot to another use instead of what it was meant for is a distortion that will adversely affect the bulk of power supply and distribution to the city.
Earlier, Messrs Akin Olujinmi (SAN) and Kanu Agabi (SAN), counsel to the accused persons, had separately asked the court through applications brought on May 12th and June 23rd respectively to quash the case against their clients, saying that the offences being alleged were not disclosed in the proof of evidence and that it was an abuse of court processes to have duplicated their charges. They submitted that the court needed to safeguard the accused persons from harassment and public embarrassment.
They also contended that because the office of a minister was not described as a public servant, but was distinctively described in the constitution, no charge against the first accused person should be sustained.