The Economic and Financial Crimes Commissin(EFCC) has asked a federal High Court sitting in Lagos to dismiss a motion filed by a former Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, seeking to commit the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to prison for alleged contempt.
Mrs. Usman had in a motion on notice filed through her lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) argued that it was contemptuous for of her name to be included on the looters’ list released by the information minister during the pendency of an alleged fraud case.
The defendant’s lawyer, Chief Orbih (SAN),had alleged that the information minister by his action pre-judged his client’s case before the court, therefore urging the court to grant the motion.
“The information minister’s action undermines the integrity of the court and is aimed at poisoning the mind of the public against the applicant.
“Assuming at the end of proceedings, the defendants were cleared of the alleged offence, the integrity of the court will be put to rest owing to the information minister’s action.
“In the absence of any denial by the alleged contemnor, there was no need for the applicant to attach any advertorial from the ministry of information. What is required at this stage is minimal proof in the absence of any specific denial by the alleged contemnor”, he said.
However, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to decline the Nenadi’s request for the information minister to be summoned to explain why he should not be committed to prison over his action.
The minister of information is not a party to the criminal proceedings against the applicant. There is no evidence to show that the alleged contemnor works with the various media houses that published the alleged offensive publication. Besides, there were no allegations against the media houses that published the alleged offensive publication.
“There was nothing that connects the ministry of information to the motion which was taken out to annoy the prosecution. The motion is lacking in substance, it is an abuse of court’s process and should be dismissed”, he said.
The judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa has reserved ruling on the motion to November 16, 2018.