Lawyer loses bid to quash charges over fraud
A Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday October 26 th 2010 ruled that a legal practitioner, Barrister Chima Benedict Ejekwulo, arraigned before it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over fraud charges, has a case to answer and must face trial accordingly. Ejekwulo was arraigned before Justice Adebunkola Banjoko for deceiving his client into believing that he was going to pay ten percent commission to the EFCC for a petition he authored against the duo of Nsikakabasi Akpan Jacob and Abdulmalik Ibrahim who allegedly misappropriated the funds of Tha Shipping and Maritime Service Limited.
The judge, , ruling on an application brought before her by Ejekwulo seeking the court to quash the charge preferred against him, and also challenging the jurisdiction of the court, said that the application lacked merit and could not stand the test of time. “There is sufficient evidence for the accused person to answer the call of justice”, she ruled. She also said that there was a prima facie case established against him. On jurisdiction, Justice Banjoko insisted that the court had absolute jurisdiction to entertain the suit, maintaining that Section 14 of the EFCC Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, vested on the High Court of the FCT jurisdiction over cases of economic and financial crimes which include the offence for which the accused is standing trial. After the ruling, the judge adjourned the case to December 9 th for definite hearing.
The one count charge against Ejekwulo reads: “ that you, Barrister Chima Benedict Ejekwulo on or about the 9th day of March, 2009, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honorable court with intent to defraud and attempted to obtain money by false pretence from one Jan Holm by falsely presenting to him that same is to be delivered to the EFCC as commission which you know is false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 8 (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Offence Act 2006 punishable under section 1(1) (a) of the same Act”.