Law News
CCB arraigns Orubebe for N70m bribery, false asset declaration

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, expressed disappointment over the failure of the prosecution to present its witnesses after the arraignment of a former Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, on four counts of a N70m bribery and false asset declaration on Monday.

The arraignment of the former minister took place on Monday amid a solidarity jamboree by a large number of Orubebe’s supporters who were restricted to the gate of the tribunal in Jabi, Abuja.

The supporters with a band that played outside the gate throughout the period the proceedings lasted, gave Orubebe a heroic welcome as he arrived at about 9.50am ahead of the proceedings scheduled to begin by 10am.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, ‘Kangaroo judiciary can only lead to chaos and violence!!!, ‘We seek fair judgments that guarantee peace,’ Leave Orubebe Alone’ and ‘Enough is enough of very recent acts of judicial rascality of hatchet judges.’

A banner by ‘Ijaw Community Association Abuja’ had an inscription that read, ‘Say No To These Anti-Corruption War Targeted at South-South Indigenes.’

The proceedings got stalled after Orubebe pleaded not guilty to the charges and it was time for the prosecution to call its witnesses.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Musa Usman, instead of calling its witnesses applied for an adjournment.

In response, the tribunal chairman, Umar, expressed surprise over the failure of the prosecution to produce its witnesses in court.

He said, “I am surprised that your witnesses are not here. You have ample time, you have ample opportunity to prepare your witnesses. The whole essence of the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act is to ensure that criminal cases are treated with dispatch.

“Once arraignment has taken place, the prosecution is supposed to call its witnesses. Don’t let this repeat itself.”

The defence counsel, Mr. Selekeowei Larry (SAN), also expressed surprise at the absence of the prosecution witnesses in court on Monday.

“We are ready for trial but we are surprised that the prosecution is not here with their witnesses with all the noise that has been made about this case in the media,” the lawyer said.

The tribunal chairman then adjourned the case till November 26 after given a stern warning to the prosecution to produce all its witnesses at the next hearing date.

Orubebe in counts one and two was accused of failure to declare his assets at Plot 2722 Kyamu and Plot 2059 in Asokoro District both in Abuja on assumption of office as a minister on September 26, 2007.

In count three, he was accused of accepting N50m bribe from one Pastor Jonathan Alota, on September 19, 2012 for award of contract in favour of his (Alota’s) company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited.

In count four, he allegedly accepted an additional N20m bribe from Alota in 2013 for the award of a contract to Chemtronics Nigeria Limited for the construction of a skill acquisition centre at Edo State for the sum of N1.8bn.

He is said to have committed the offences of false asset declaration under section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap C15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The offence is also said to be contained in paragraph 11(1) & (2) of Part I, Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and punishable under section 23(2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal Act and as incorporated under paragraph 18 of Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The bribery offences are said to be contrary to section 10 of Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal Act as incorporated under paragraph 18 of Part 1 Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

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