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Alleged 700m fraud: Court to rule on Edo 2016 PDP candidate application March 26

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Justice M.G. Umar of the Federal High Court in Benin City, has fixed March 26, 2020 for the ruling on applications filed by former Peoples Democratic party governorship candidate in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the state PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, former Deputy Governor, Mr, Lucky Imasuen, former member of the House of Representatives, Tony Azegbemi and Efe Anthony, challenging the competency of the count charges raised against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Recall that the anti-graft agency in suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016 had file eight count charges against the accused persons bordering on alleged illegal receipt of public funds (N700 million) for the purpose of the 2015 general election, contrary to the provisions of the EFCC Act and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

The EFCC further accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to commit the offence in March, 2015, alleging that they took possession and control of the funds without any contract award.

On resumption of hearing on Monday in Benin City, Counsels to the five defendants, Ferdinand Orbih SAN, Kingsley Obamogie Esq, Pascal Ugbome Esq, Prof. O.G Izevbuwa Esq, Ikhide Ehighalua Esq, after adopting their writing addresses urged the court to strike out the charges against the defendants on the ground that it was incompetent.

They argued further that the Prosecutioner’s reply to their addresses was in gross valuation of the Legal Practitioners Act, Rule 10 (1), (2) (3) of the Rules for Professional conduct of legal practitioners, and averred that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case because the Petitioner’s reply was filed out of time.

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Ferdinand Orbih contended that EFCC should have amended their charges against the defendants by removing Late Chief Tony Anenih’s name from the charges rather than saying the late politician was irrelevant to the substance of the case.

But counsel to the petitioner, Larry Aso Esq, while adopting his writing address urged the court to upheld his argument, maintaining that Chief Anenih was never charged by EFCC.

He urged the court to dismiss the defendants applications, saying that defendants can not raise objection to the charges now as they have not taken their pleads, hence, he described the defendants applications as grossly incompetence.

Aso further averred that, the court should not have listened to the argument of the defendants as the court can only have jurisdiction over the defendants after they have taken their pleads.

He argued that contrary to the submissions of the defendants, the petitioner’s reply to the applications of the defendants was signed by Austin Ozigbo Esq whose stamp and seal appeared on the reply.

However, Counsel to the defendant, Ferdinand Orbih who attempted to move oral application for change of surety for his client was vehemently opposed by Counsel to EFCC.

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