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Court dismisses ex-Kwara lawmaker’s bid to stop fraud trial

The Kwara State High Court, Ilorin, on Thursday dismissed an application filed by a former member of the state House of Assembly, Mohammed Adebayo, seeking to stop his trial for alleged fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in July last year arraigned the ex-lawmaker on a six-count charge of land fraud.

One of the charges read: “That you, Mohammed Adebayo, sometimes in July 2013 in Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N950,000 from one Mary Omowunmi Kolade on the false pretence that three plots of land (situated at Malete, Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State) which you sold to her belonged to you, a representation you knew to be false punishable under Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related offences.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

At the last adjourned date, the defence counsel, I. Abdulazeez, drew the attention of Justice Sikiru Oyinloye to a letter written by the nominal complainants in the case.

He said:”The nominal complainants have written a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on their intention to withdraw their petition against Adebayo.”

He urged the court to strike out the case and discharge the defendant.

In his response to the defence counsel’s request, the EFCC counsel, Sesan Ola, asked the court to strike out the application, saying the EFCC was the complainant in the matter and had no intention to withdraw from the case.

He argued that the application lacked merit, and “the nominal complainant” unknown in law.

“The EFCC is the complainant in this case, and we have two witnesses in court, ready to testify,” he said, urging the court to reject the defendant’s application.

In his verdict, Justice Oyinloye ruled that the application lacked merit and dismissed it.

He said: “This application lacked merit. It is only the Attorney- General of the Federation that has powers to withdraw the charge, not the nominal complainants or an accused person.”

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He described the steps taken by the defence and the “nominal complainants” as “very weird, uncanny and strange” in the administrative criminal justice system.

The judge adjourned the case till February 26 for the prosecution to open its case.

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