The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed June 23 for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to re-arraign some top officials of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and two former directors over alleged fraud.
Justice Bolaji Olajuwon fixed the date after counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was formally before a sister judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, who had been transferred to the Calabar division.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Olajuwon from Markudi division took over from Justice Ojukwu.
“This matter was slated for the prosecution to open its case but due to recent transfer that took place, the matter will have to be commenced denovo (afresh),” Iheanacho told the judge.
The EFCC lawyer hinted that though the defendants were already on bail, he would have prayed for an arrest warrant against three of the defendants who were neither in court nor represented by counsel.
NAN observes that only the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 9th defendants were either in court or represented by their counsel.
“They are actually on bail. But if not for the fact that the matter is coming up for the first time before my lord, I will have made a request for the arrest warrant,” Iheanacho said.
The judge, therefore, held that the defendants, who were absent, should be given another opportunity to come to court.
Olajuwon then adjourned the matter until June 23 for fresh arraignment.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the anti-corruption agency had, on March 11, arraigned Mr Peter Hena, former Coordinating Director; Mohammed Bello Auta, ex-Finance Director, and seven other staff of FIRS before Justice Ojukwu.
The others are Aminu Sidi, Umar Aliyu Aduku, Mbura Mustapha, Obi Okeke Malachy, Obaje Napoleon Adofu, Udo-Inyang Effiong Alfred and Benjamin Jiya.
They were arraigned on 42-count charge bordering on corruption, fraud and criminal misappropriation of funds running into millions and punishable under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended in 2012