Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau State High Court, Jos, on Tuesday, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for “laxity” in the prosecution of the former governor of the state, Jonah Jang, for alleged misappropriation of N6.3billion.
The judge had on November 18 fixed December 17, for hearing and ruling on the no-case submission filed by the ex- governor’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) but at the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, counsel to EFCC, H. O Ejiga, sought for another adjournment stating that the Commission was not ready to proceed with the case.
He blamed the defense counsel for failing to comply with the 14 days period earlier given by the court to file their no-case submission and accused the defense counsel of mischief for serving the submission to the EFCC office in Abuja instead of the office of the Lead Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs.
The development, he claimed robbed the prosecution of the opportunity to file a reply within the time frame.
He said: “My Lord, it is true that the court in its last sitting on 18th November, 2019 adjourned the case to enable parties file the necessary applications. Sadly, the prosecution did not file its reply to the no-case submission because we were disappointed in the style of practice adopted by the defence which we never knew to be the practice.
“My lord will recall that they requested for 14 days to file the no-case submission and this was granted. On the prosecution side, we prayed for 10 days. Even though they filed their application out of time, 16 days instead of the 14 days agreed. Rather than serving Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) which is the address on the record before the court, the defense elected to serve our clients, the EFCC and denied us the opportunity of being aware as early as possible.
“We wrote to the EFCC informing them of our preparation towards the matter today only for them to forward the written process on the 16th November. To further show the intended mischief by the defence, they found our address and sent us a notice of appeal on the amendment that was done on the charge. So, it cannot be said that they are not aware of our address which is properly before the court. The service to the EFCC has robbed us of the opportunity to meet with the time. So, I request the court to give us sometime to enable us to file our reply.”
Ozekhome, in his submission argued that the reasons adduced by the EFCC not to go ahead with the matter was a ploy designed to ensure the court does not hear the matter anymore having seen the imminent defeat that awaits them.
After listening to the arguments by both counsels, Justice Longji gave the EFCC 24 hours to file the necessary reply to the no-case submission sent by the defence team to enable the court continue with the matter.
He subsequently adjourned the case till December 23 for continuation of hearing.