Students from tertiary institutions in Gombe on Tuesday marched to the Federal High Court, where former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, and four others are standing trial for stealing N25 billion, to demand that justice be done without favour.
The students said they were in court to help prevent a repeat of the James Ibori saga, where a former governor was acquitted by a Nigerian court only to be jailed by a court in the United Kingdom for the same offence.
Goje and the others, Aliyu El- Nafaty, Sambo Tumu, S.M. Dakoro and S.M. Dakoro Gombe (a company) are standing trial on an 18-count charge for laundering N25b.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Goje and his defence team of deliberately stalling their trial at the Federal High Court sitting in Gombe. They were first arraigned on 17th October, 2011.
Adefence counsel, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) opposed an attempt by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu to proceed on trial by calling his witnesses for cross examination requesting instead that Shittu should show to his clients and the court, an evidence of prosecutorial authority from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before the commencement of trial, before Hon Justice Babatunde Quadri,
Akintola, who cited the 1999 Constitution, argued that only the AGF and Minister of Justice can prosecute a criminal case on behalf of the state or through the instrumentality of a fiat.
He finally submitted that the only locus the prosecutor can have is to produce a fiat, duly signed by the AGF before the court, the absence of which implies an absence of authority to proceed in the trial, thereby denying the accused persons and the court the right to know. Akintola opted for the court in the present circumstance to dismiss the charge against the accused persons.
But in his response, Shittu urged the court to take judicial notice of the prosecution’s readiness to proceed with the trial by calling witnesses already in court.
He argued that the objection was only raised in the court orally, without a pre-judicial notice, and accused the defence plotting to deliberately delay proceedings. Shittu also wondered why the defence did not query his authority in earlier appearances. “I see this as an attempt to stall the case, even for the third time,” he added.
Honourable Justice Quadri obliged him and adjourned to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th July 2012 for definite hearing of prosecution witnesses and accelerated trial.