By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
A renewed attempt by former Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, to halt his trial over the alleged stealing of N25 billion while in office, suffered a setback Friday, as the court refused to grant the politician’s request.
Goje, now a Senator, had prayed the court to stay proceeding in the case brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for an offence allegedly committed in conjunction with four other suspects.
But Justice Babatunde Quadiri of the Federal High Court, Gombe, threw out the case, saying that it amounted to a distraction and an undue attempt to delay trial.
In evaluating the positions of both parties, Justice Quadri opined that ‘no doubt, the crux of the matter relates to refusal of this court to transfer the case to Abuja or any location outside the North East for security reasons’. He reiterated the guidelines as spelt out by law for grant or otherwise of an application for stay of proceedings and concluded that there was no special circumstance to warrant the grant of such relief.
Alluding to the prosecution’s position that Section 40 of the EFCC Act precludes the court from entertaining an application for stay of proceedings in respect of any criminal matter brought before it by the Commission until judgment is delivered; Justice Quadri noted that the section ousted the court jurisdiction to entertain the application.
Quadiri noted, “This application cannot be granted as it is seemingly meant to delay proceedings in this case”.
He took judicial notice of earlier interlocutory applications brought before the court by the accused persons, pointing out that granting the application would not serve the cause of justice.
It will be recalled that Danjuma Goje, Aliyu El-Nafaty, Sambo Tumu, S.M. Dokoro and S.M. Dokoro Gombe (company) were first arraigned on 17th October 2011 on charges bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune N25billion belonging to the Gombe State Government contrary to and punishable under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011 as amended.
The court adjourned till 14th and 15th May, 2013 for the hearing of the case against the former governor and his accomplices.
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