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HEMBE, AZUBUOGU TO KNOW FATE JULY 2

By NBF News
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An Abuja High Court will on July 2 decide the objections by Representatives Herman Hembe and Chris Azubuogu challenging the leave for their arraignment on alleged diversion of public funds.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on May 10 obtained leave of the court to charge Hembe and Azubuogu on two-count charges of converting to their own use the sum of $4095 (N600,000) given to them by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as travelling allowance to a conference in Dominican Republic in October, 2011.

But the former chairman and deputy chairman House Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions insisted that the court approval was erroneous.

The lawmakers stepped aside following the allegations of bribery by the Director General of SEC, Miss Arunma Oteh, during the public hearing on the activities of the commission.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, defence counsels Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and J.S. Okutepa (SAN), argued that since Hembe provided evidence that he travelled and Azubuogu, who did not travel returned his estacode, they have not committed any offence to warrant their arraignment.

They accused the anti-graft agency of taking sides with Oteh, who is a member of the board of the EFFC.

Okutepa urged the court to decline the trial because neither the security agencies nor the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, where the allegation was referred to, have produced a report indicting the accused persons.

Earlier, Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, dismissed the objection by the EFCC counsel, Onjefu Obe, who argued that the accused persons should first take their plea on the alleged offence of criminal misappropriation.