Court dismisses Bankole’s bid to halt trial

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed two applications filed by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, to stop his trial.

Justice Donatus Okorowa, who dismissed the bids, insisted that there was sufficient evidence against the former Speaker placed before the court linking him to the alleged crime.

Bankole, who is being prosecuted on a 16 criminal count-charge of contract inflation and fraudulent embezzlement of public fund, has earlier lost similar applications at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

On June 13 and July 26, 2011, he had filed two separate motions seeking the court to quash the case against him on the ground that the proof of evidence did not disclose any shred of criminality against him and on another ground that Festus  Keyamo, the EFCC counsel, should be disqualified from prosecuting the case. He had accused Keyamo of being biased besides the fact that there was no Attorney General in office when the charges were filed.

In his ruling, the judge cited section 4 of the constitution which states that the legislative powers of the House of Representatives shall be vested in the National Assembly. He further said that under the Public Procurement Act (PPA), the National Assembly is a contemplation of the Act  which makes it culpable.

On the question of who should be charged under the Act, the Judge pointed out that the PPA had shown in the extended scope of the Act that the National Assembly can be charged and it is on record that there is a body of principal officers responsible for awarding contracts. He added that under the Criminal Code, the first accused is liable.

On whether a prima-facie case has been established, Justice Okorowa said there is enough evidence tendered by the prosecution linking the accused and the offences charged against him. He said that the case cannot be struck out because the prosecution filed evidences and that the insufficiency of prove of evidence was immaterial as it is the duty of the court to determine otherwise.

Author: nmmin

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