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N3.3BN THEFT: I DON'T NEED TO BE IN COURT, NDI-OKEREKE TELLS JUDGE

By NBF News
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Former Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Dr. Ndi Okereke-Onyuike on Wednesday told a Lagos High Court that there was no need for her to be physically present in court in a suit filed against her and seven others by the Lagos State Government.

The state had filed two separate charges before Justice Christopher Balogun of the Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere against the ex-NSE director general and her ex- deputy, Alhaji Musa Elakama along with six others over alleged theft of N3.3 billion.

Although none of the defendants had appeared in court since the suit commenced, they filed a preliminary objection, arguing that the prosecution had failed to disclose a prima facie case against them. However, the trial judge raised the issue on whether the defendants could argue their preliminary objection without their physical presence in court.

Speaking through their counsel, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), the defendants argued that since they have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate on the suit, their physical presence in court was not required. In his submission, Clarke told the court that in criminal matters, it was absolutely unnecessary for the defendants to be in court when their application to quash the charge preferred against them was being heard by the court. According to him, since the defendants were contesting the validity of the information contained in the charge, there was no need for them to be in court.

In his reply, the prosecution counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN) did not raise objection, adding that the only time the defendants could be compelled to come to court was if they were already in custody He, however, argued that the judge had the power to summon the defendant since they were aware of the suit pending against them.

Further hearing in the matter had been fixed for December 9, 2011