N894m Fraud: Judge’s Absence Stalls Bankole’s Trial

The absence of Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, yesterday in Abuja stalled the hearing of the N894 million fraud charge against the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.

Okorowo, who is now a judge of the court in Jalingo, Taraba, was said to have been engaged in some official duties at his new posting.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a new date for hearing of the matter has not been fixed.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in June, 2011 filed a 16-count charge of contract inflation amounting to N894 million against the former Speaker.

Bankole has lost two attempts at stopping his trial.

NAN reports that Okorowo on Dec. 19, 2011 dismissed an application urging the court to quash the charge.

The accused person’s objection against alleged absence of authorisation for Mr Festus Keyamo to prosecute the case was equally dismissed by the court.

In his ruling then, Okorowo held that the prosecutor must be given the liberty to prosecute the case, considering that the charges had shown enough “prima facie’’ against the ex-Speaker.

The court further held that Bankole lacked the authority to question lawyers who were employed to prosecute the case.

According to the judge, proof exists to show that Keyamo obtained the approval of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as well as the brief of the EFCC to prosecute the matter.

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