EFCC To el-Rufai: You Are Your Delaying Trial
San Francisco, June 22, (THEWILL) - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today accused former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of making efforts to delay his trial over allegations of abuse of office and conspiracy preferred against him.
The accusation came on the heels of the preliminary objection raised by el-Rufai against his trial at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. The former minister brought a motion of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the corruption charges against him.
At the court session presided over by Justice Adamu Bello, el-Rufai’s counsel, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, filed the motion of preliminary objection and informed the court that he had served the EFCC counsel in the court. He prayed the court to permit him to move the motion. Counsel to the second accused person, Nkereuwen Akpan aligned with Akeredolu’s motion, adding that the law was explicit on the lack of jurisdiction of the court to try his client. ã€€
In the same vein, counsel to third accused person, Kanu Agabi, SAN, also filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. He however apologized for the delay in serving the motion on the prosecution counsel.
In his response, EFCC counsel, Adelodun Adebayo SAN, said all the processes were served on him early in the day in court and needed time to go through the motions and respond appropriately. He frowned at the conduct of the defence counsel insisting that they were all scheming to prolong and frustrate the trial.ã€€ He disclosed that the EFCC, in its readiness to try all the accused persons, brought four witnesses to the court and that they were all ready to testify.
Justice Adamu Bello, after listening to all the counsels said the court could not go on with the trial because of the motions filed. Heã€€consequently adjourned the case to July 26, 2010 for adoption of addresses for and against the 1st and 3rd defendants.
el-Rufai and two others are standing trial on an eight-count charge preferred against them by the EFCC. The charges border on conspiracy and abuse of office.ã€€
At the last hearing on May 12, 2010, Justice Bello granted bail to the former minister in the sum of N100 million. Two other accused persons, who are standing trial with him were also granted bail in the said sum each. They are Altine Jubrin, former Director General, Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, and Ismaila Iro, former General Manager, AGIS. While el-Rufai is facing an eight-count charge of criminal conspiracy, corruption and abuse of office while he held sway as the FCT minister, the two others are facing a three-count charge of abuse of office and criminal conspiracy.
Part of the charges reads: "That you Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai (M) between 13th day of December, 2003 and 14th of December, 2007 or thereabout at the Ministry of Federal capital territory, Abuja in the course of and or in the performance of your official duties as the Minister ofã€€the federal Capital Territoryã€€did use your said Office and position to gratify and confer corrupt or unfair advantage on your relation to wit your wife Hadiza Ahmed El-Rufai by reallocating to her parts of the parcel of land known as plot No 1201, Asokoro District (A4) Abuja, originally allocated in the Federal Capital Territory Master plan to power Holding company of Nigeria Plc for the construction of transmitting/ injection sub-stations which fully and /or intentionally revoked for that purpose, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the corrupt and Other related Offences act, 2000.
Count two reads "that you Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai (M) between 13th day of December, 2003 and 14th day of December, 2007 or thereabout at the Ministry of Federal Territory, Abuja in the course of and /or in the performance of your official duties as the Ministry of the Federal capital Territory did use your said Office and position to gratify and confer corrupt or unfair advantage on your relation to wit: your wife Asia Ahmed El-Rufai by reallocating to her parts of the parcel of land known as Federal Capital Territory Master plan to Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc for the construction of transmitting/ injection sub-stations which allocation you had wrongfully and / or intentionally revoked for that purpose, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the corrupt Practices and other related offences act; 2000."