By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria, on Friday 6 March, dismissed an application filed and argued before the court by the counsel to the former chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Profesor Maurice Iwu, to transfer his case to Abuja for trial.
Professor Iwu is standing trial before the court on charges of laundering N1.23billion. The presiding Judge, Nicholas Oweibo, while dismissing the application, fixed 20th April 2020 for the trial of the former INEC boss to commence.
Iwu’s application for his case to be transferred to Abuja was dismissed on the ground that all the witnesses EFFC intends to call are all in Lagos.
The counsel to the former INEC, boss, Mr. Hamed Raji, SAN, in an application filed and argued before the court challenging territorial jurisdiction of the court, urged the court to transfer the case to Abuja, on the ground that the offence alleged to have been committed took place in Abuja. Aside this, the defendant resides in Abuja and any time the matter comes up in Lagos, the defendant spends money on transportation, hotel accommodation and goes through a lot of stress.
However, the EFCC prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, in his counter argument in opposition to the application, told the court that, apart from the fact that the new Administration of criminal justice system, only the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the power to transfer any case from one division of the court to another division. All the witnesses the prosecution intends to call are all Lagos based, the investigating Police Officer, the officers of the banks to give evidence are in Lagos.
Mr Oyedepo argued further that the alleged offence committed by Maurice Iwu touches the economy of Nigeria, therefore he can be tried in any part of the country. Consequently, he urge the court not to grant Iwu’s request.