Law News
N5bn fraud: Court orders separate trial for Nnamani

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday granted an application seeking separate trial for a former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, and his former aide, Sunday Anyaogu. Both are facing trial alongside six companies over alleged N5bn fraud.

The companies are Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, Hillgate Nigeria Limited, Cosmo FM, Capital City Automobile Nigeria Limited, Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had asked the court to let the anti-graft commission try the companies separately from Nnamani and Anyaogu, in order to fast-track the case which had dragged since 2007.

The trial of the accused persons had on several occasions been stalled on the grounds of Nnamani’s ill health and the claim that the ex-governor was not fit and could not stand trial until he was healthy enough to do so.

Nnamadi had told the court that he suffered a complication following a heart surgery and had consequently asked for permission on a number of occasions to travel abroad for treatment.

The EFCC, in its application filed pursuant to Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 2004, seeking separate trial for the companies, said the companies’ assets were prone to becoming obsolete or completely eroded if the matter was not decided on time.

While moving the application, the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Kelvin Uzozie, urged the court to act decisively and put a stop to what he said had now become a scandal.

Ruling on the application on Wednesday, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, said EFCC’s request was in line with the Practice Direction of the Federal High Court Rules.

The judge discountenanced the argument of Nnamani’s lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), that separating the trial would lead to complications.

Tarfa, in a counter-affidavit filed in opposition to EFCC’s prayer for separate trial, had argued that it was better to jointly prosecute all the accused persons since the prosecution was bringing the same set of witnesses to testify against all the accused persons.

The senior lawyer also submitted that conducting separate trials might plunge the court into reaching conflicting decisions in the case.

But Yunusa upheld the EFCC’s submission that there was need to expedite the companies’ trial in view of their assets, which were liable to becoming eroded.

The judge subsequently ordered the commission to amend its processes and adjourned till May 11, 2015 for mention.

Nnamani, who is at present seeking election into the Senate on the platform of the People for Democratic Change, is standing trial for allegedly misappropriating funds belonging to Enugu State while he was the state governor.

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