The Federal Government on Thursday sought the consent of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to amend charges against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe.
Orubebe is standing trial before the tribunal on charges of false declaration of assets and collection of bribe on awarded contract to the tune of N70 million.
Recall that the commencement of his prosecution on November 9, the prosecution, led by Peter Danladi, sought an adjournment for two weeks to enable it prepare its witnesses.
The tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, granted the prosecution’s prayer and adjourned to November 26 for the prosecution to open trial.
However, at the resumed hearing of the trial yesterday, Mr Danladi orally applied for the amendment of the earlier charges against the ex-minister.
The prosecution said it intended to amend counts two, three and four.
“The matter was adjourned till today (Thursday) for hearing. But before we proceed, we are applying to amend counts two, three and four. The applications are brought pursuant to section 216 of the ACJ Act and pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal”, the prosecution counsel said.
Section 216 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 states that a court may permit an alteration or amendment to a charge or framing of a new charge at a time before judgment is pronounced.
This request was however, rejected by the defence lawyer, Selekowei Larry (SAN), who argued that the amendment could not be requested orally, but through motion on notice.
“This is serious business. You can’t just jump up and say you want to amend the charges. You have to notify us about what you want to do. You have to do it through motion on notice. You cannot come and take us by surprise. We have to know what you are doing.
“This is a court of record. Whatever they want to do, let them do it properly by way of motion on notice”, Mr. Larry countered.
Chairman of the tribunal ruled that the request must be made formally to give the defense the opportunity to respond to the application.
The tribunal adjourned to Jan. 27 for continuation of trial.