By Gowon Emakpe
Former Speaker of the Nigeria House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, is raising questions as to who made Festus Keyamo a prosecutor to prosecute him and has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to quash the alleged inflation of contracts charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),.
Bankole maintains that at the time of filing the charges, there was no Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to give Mr Keyamo the fiat to prosecute him.
In an application filed by Mr Bankole’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, the former speaker said: “The last AGF was Mohammed Adoke SAN, who vacated officially on the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council on 28th May, 2011.
The AGF is the only officer that the Constitution empowered to issue fiat to private legal practitioner to institute or continue criminal proceedings in the high court.”
He noted that the charges were filed on June 7th, 2011 when no AGF was in office, saying that the office of speaker of the House Representatives which he occupied between the years 2007 and 2011 is not cognisable for the purpose of criminal responsibility or liability within the scope and intendment of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
Mr Bankole also said the proof of evidence did not connect him with the items allegedly procured in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
But Mr Keyamo in a telephone chat with NEXT, said his argument is a none issue.
A few minutes after the Federal High Court in Abuja granted the former speaker bail on Monday the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested him again and charged him, with his former deputy, Usman Nafada at another court in Abuja.
Mr Bankole who is facing prosecution over alleged corruption committed while in office, was granted bail earlier in the day in the sum of N5 million and a surety in like sum, with a landed property in Abuja and asked to submit his international passport to the court.
He was arrested on Sunday June 5, and charged to court for inflating contract awards which includes the cost of 400 units of 40-inch Samsung (LNS.3410 Television sets) purchased at the rate of N525,000 per unit, instead of the prevailing market price of N295,000.
His alleged action constitutes an offence contrary to Section 58 (4) (a) of the Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (5) of the same Act.
The EFCC had also in Abuja on Sunday June 12, arrested Mr Nafada over allegations of corruption while in office.
Messrs Bankole and Nafada pleaded not guilty to the 17 count charges. Their lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo wanted to move an oral application for their bail but the presiding Judge, Sulieman Belgore, asked him to file a formal application for bail.
Counsel to the EFCC, Festus Keyamo, told the court that their custody is filled up with other accused persons in relation to the matter and that the former speaker and his deputy should be remanded in prison custody pending when their application for bail will be heard. The hearing comes up Thursday, June 16.