Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and his former deputy, Usman Nafada will, on October 21, be informed whether or not an Abuja High Court will quash charges of illegally obtaining a N38 billion loan leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Presiding judge, Suleiman Belgore fixed the day for his ruling after listening to counsel to Bankole and Nafada, Adegboyega Awomolo on Monday.
Mr Bankole is asking the court to disqualify Mr. Keyamo from handling the prosecution on behalf of the EFCC, saying Mr Keyamo is an interested party, having written a petition against him in 2008 alleging massive fraud.
In the petition, sent to the House Committee on Ethics, Mr Bankole alleged that
Mr Keyamo called him several names and called his integrity into question. He said this act makes
the lawyer morally and legally incompetent to be the one that will prosecute him in the case at hand.
According to Mr Awolomo, the Court should not allow Mr Keyamo to be the accuser and the prosecutor at the same time.
Mr Keyamo however charged that Mr Bankole’s objection means he is shopping for who he prefers to prosecute him. “Accused/Applicant is merely shopping for who he prefers to prosecute him,” he said. “The law is that an accused person is not at liberty to pick and choose and cannot raise an objection as to who can prosecute him”.
He said what the objection seeks to do is to gag the prosecutor and every other lawyer in the country from raising alarm about corruption against public officers, as such lawyer may stand the risk of being barred from prosecuting any such public officer.
Plea of innocence
Mr Bankole also claimed the offences of criminal breach of trust and theft, as alleged in Counts 2-17, cannot be committed by him by ‘obtaining a loan to augment allowances and running costs of members of the House of Representatives in violation of the extant Revised Financial Regulations of the Federal Government of Nigeria, 2009′ or at all.
“The accused/applicant in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives and in exercise of his powers as Chairman of the Principal Officers of the House of Representatives at plenary, executive or committee session of the House of Representatives acted in official capacity and not personally, he cannot be personally liable for any criminal prosecution.”
He is also asking for an order condemning the EFCC for an abuse of court process, malicious, and reckless use of prosecutorial power of the Attorney-General of the Federation, when it had no power or authority to appropriate such powers.
The case was filed when an attorney-General has not been appointed by the Nigerian president.