Former governor of Jigawa, Sule Lamido, has challenged the transfer of his criminal suit at Federal High Court, Abuja, from Justice Adeniyi Ademola to Justice B. O. Quadri for determination.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, transferred the case to Quadri following Ademola’s arraignment and trial in an Abuja High Court.
Lamido and his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, and two others, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in September 2015.
They were arraigned before Justice Ademola on a 27-count charge bordering on alleged abuse of office and money laundering.
Following Ademola’s arraignment and trial over alleged bribery and corruption, the EFCC applied to Auta for re-assignment of the case to another judge.
However, after the Abuja High Court discharged Ademola and co-defendants in the corruption charges, Lamido asked that the case be returned to him.
He said this was on the grounds that taking the case before Quadri would mean beginning it denovo (afresh).
However, the EFCC in a letter dated April 11 and addressed to Auta, noted that it would not be in the interest of justice for the case to be transferred to Ademola.
“This is because of the negative impressions the public may have about the outcome of the trial, whether the defendants (Lamido and sons) are convicted or not.”
“The fear of this public perception may put the judge (Ademola) under pressure, which may affect his sense of judgment.”
Lamido’s lawyer, Mr Joe Agi (SAN), queried the re-assignment of the suit to Justice Quari on the grounds of law.
According to him, 18 of the 20 witnesses lined up by the prosecution have already testified in the suit.
“We wrote to the Chief Judge to reassign the case to Justice Ademola in view of the fact that 18 witnesses have already been called.”
“And that by Section 98 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, transfer of cases in criminal trials are not done as a matter of course,” Agi said.
On the EFCC position on public sentiments in the event that the suit was returned to Ademola’s court, the lawyer said the issue of public perception was not found anywhere in law.
He urged the court to make an order that the case file be returned to Ademola, as well as an order directing accelerated hearing and determination of the case.
Justice Quadri adjourned the matter until May 3 for hearing.
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