Drama in court as Jide Omokore rejects arraignment

At the assumed hearing, the counsel to the first defendant, R. A. Lawal confirmed to the court of a service of an amended charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Lawal said: “Yes, my lord we have been served the amended charge.”
He however said he has some observations on that amendment.

“The original charge is still before this court and I think that should be withdrawn so that we don’t have two charges,” Lawal added.
He also said the amended charge on of the party, Kolawale Akane who is said to be at large has not appeared on the list of defendants.
He further argued that a party whose name has ran through the charges but have not appeared on the defendant list renders the charge invalid.
Citing section 3(B) of the Constitution Lawal said on the day of the first arraignment, the prosecution must produce all accused persons in court.
In support of Lawal, counsel to the second and third defendant, A. A Adegbonmire said Akane appeared on all the nine charges before the court.
He also said Section 36 (6) of the 1999 Constitution gives the court the power to ensure that all parties are served before arraignment.
Also making his submissions, counsel to the fourth defendant, Tayo Oyetigbo said proceedings without proper service will amount to a waste of time.
He also said that he is not aware of a proof of service on Akane.
Oyetegbo said: “Your lordship, we need to ascertain if there was a service and wr cannot proceed with proceedings until tgat is done, the prosecution will need to do some housekeeping.”
He also said thatvthe EFCC is yet to make available a proof of service to Akane.
Relying on Section 266 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, counsel to the fifth defendant said arraignment must be done properly.
“Arraignment is the beginning of trial and there can be no trial without arraignment,” George said.
He also said it was permissible in the past to arraign accused persons said to be at large.
“That is not obtainable now, it is a thing of the past, we therefore urge the court to allow time for the prosecution to put their house in order,” he said.
In his argument, Afam Osigwe, counsel to the sixth said his team was only served the amended charge this morning.
He said if arraignment continues, it will amount violation of his clients right.
But in his defense, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs said the original cannot be withdrawn.
He said if withdrawn, the amended charge will not be able to stand on its own.
He also submitted that Akane is not one of the six defendants and that the arguments of the defendants present in court cannot stand.
“My lord, the need for this is that any time we get him, we will bring him here and amend the charge,” Jacobs said.
He urged the court to discountence the objection raised by the defendants and allow the accused persons take their plea.
Having listened to all the arguments and submissions, the judge over the case, Binta Nyako said for a person to be tried, the person must be charge and be able to take his plea.
In the absence, there are many options to serve people who are at large and for this this charge is not right for plea,” Nyako said.
Omokore and his companies have been under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over various petrol importation frauds.
Among some of his companies investigated include, SPOG over an alleged N400 million worth of illegal importation of petroleum product.
Omokore used this particular company to import 3,000 metric tonnes of petrol.
The commission said the accused person in a dubious manner filed claims for 13,000 metric tonnes with the Petroleum Product Regulatory Agency (PPRA) thereby pocketed N400 million extra.
Following its investigation, the EFCC had also raided the private residence of the accused person and carted away away several documents and computers with the hope of getting a lead to their investigations.
He was arraigned alongside five orders before Justice Nyako.

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