An Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure will on will on January 25 decide on fate of Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon Bamidele David Oleyeloogun and two others should face prosecution over allegation of fraud levelled against them.
The EFCC had dragged the Speaker, Oleyelogun, a Lawmaker, Felemu-Gudu Bankole and a civil servant, Segun Oyadeyi to court for alleged misappropriation of 2.4million naira belonging to the State Assembly. The fund was meant for seminar, which the lawmakers and the civil servant were meant to attend.
However, the lawmakers said the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute offences affecting the finances and assets of the state as there exist a law enacted by the Assembly to tackle corruption allegation in the state.
The defendants in the preliminary objection filed to the EFCC charges by their counsel, Mr Femi Emodamori asked the Court to decline Jurisdiction and strike out the charges against them because the EFCC has no right to prosecute them.
The defendants said the charge AK/106C/2022 filed by the EFCC is flawed, defective having not been initiated in due compliance with the process of the law.
Emodamori said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) has no right to try the defendants for alleged corruption in view of the State Public Complaint Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption Commission Law passed into law and signed by the governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in January, 2022.
The Assembly had in 2021 passed a law titled “The Ondo State Public Complaints, Financial Crime and anti-Corruption Commission and other matters connected thereto” for the trial of cases related to corruption in the state. The law was signed into law January, 2022.
According to them, the charge against them contains two counts, alleging them of committing financial crimes involving the finances and assets of the state and since the state has its own version of the law, the EFCC should hands over the prosecution of the case.
He added that since the Federal Government did not legislate on the assets of the state, it does not have power to prosecute any infraction against the assets and finances of the state.
However, the Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Fredrick Dibang said the court has jurisdiction because the State law enacted by state Assembly is contrary to the acts of the National Assembly that establish EFCC and once there is conflict between the law of a state and that of the National Assembly, the law of the state is suspended.
Dibang said the Assembly passed the law with the intention of frustrating the trial of the lawmakers and the civil servant for the alleged abuse of office and corruption.
He said the alleged offence was committed in June 2020 and the prosecution stated same year. He wondered why the lawmakers passed a law to oust the jurisdiction of the court in order to escape the prosecution for the offence committed before the law was passed.
The Presiding judge, Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye fixed January 25 for the ruling on the argument of counsel to the EFCC and that of the lawmakers.