The trial of a former governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, continued on Thursday, October 10, 2019 with his counsel, Edward Pwajok, SAN, raising objections to the amended 17-count charges, filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Jang is being prosecuted by the EFCC, alongside Yusuf Pam, a cashier at the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, for an alleged N6.2billion fraud.
Counsel for the EFCC, Adebisi Adeniyi, intimated the court of the amended charges, stressing that the defence had also been served.
However, Pwajok, though confirmed the receipt of the amended charges on September 30, 2019 raised objections.
He said: “We have on behalf of the first defendant responded by filing a motion on notice dated October 8, 2019 and filed on October 9, 2019.
“We request that this honourable court quash and strike out counts 13, 14, 16 and 17 as stated in our application, and do not understand how an approval is an offence and this is embarrassing and prejudicial to my client.”
Responding, Abebisi told the court that at the last adjourned date, the attention of the trial judge was drawn to the amended charge and the respective counsel confirmed that they had been served.
He said: “We only received the motion on notice this morning just before the court sitting and I would have expected the defence counsel to start with an apology, at least in view of the fact that they were given ample time to prepare from the last sitting.
“It is unfortunate that after looking at their application, the points raised for observation cannot be entertained according to Section 236 of the ACJL Plateau State and Section 221 of the ACJA which supports that the observations raised are not valid.”
The trial judge, however, noted that no matter how trivial an objection may seem, “it must be heard”.
Sunday Odey, counsel for Pam also raised objections to the amended charges, observing that counts 14 and 17 affected his client. He thus requested for time to also study and come up with his response.
In making his argument, Pwajok noted that “while the written address in support of motion on notice highlighted three basic points, from the amended charges 13, 14, 15 and 16 the phrase ‘Transferred by approving’ denotes that our client is the principal actor whereas this is otherwise.”
Pwajok further argued that: “We are prejudiced by these counts which is misguiding, relying on the arguments of the case of Raymond Temisan Omaise vs. FRN (2017 LPELD 42719 (A) and Asuquo vs State (1967) ANLRP 132.
“We seek that the court establishes the fact that as no written address is filed by the prosecution opposing our application, failure to file an application by the prosecution could mean an admission to all the facts canvassed in our written address and also a waiver.”
However, the judge interjected that the word accused is in line with the law and not misguiding in any way.
Adebisi countered that the application is incompetent because it is contrary to the Section 236 ACJL Plateau State. Citing the case of Onyia vs FRN (2018 LPELR-4394).
He said: “Issues of amendment, is in line with 22(5) of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences, Act 2000. We have submitted particulars of how these transfers of monies was done. Was money transferred? The answer is yes and before the transfer the said monies were approved. There is no law discrediting the facts brought before the court.”
“We urge your Lordship to pass the amended charges and allow the defendants to take their plea.”
Justice Longji adjourned the matter to Friday, October 11, 2019 for continuation of trial.
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