A Lagos Federal Supreme Court dismissed a request made by a former President of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, seeking to transfer his N1.23 billion fraud trial from Lagos to Abuja.
In his decision on Friday, Judge Nicholas Oweibo dismissed the transfer request, emphasizing that it had no merit.
The judge postponed the case until April 28 for trial.
Judge Oweibo said looking at the list of witnesses submitted by the anti-graft agency reveal that most of the witnesses were in Lagos, with some retirees, so “justice will be better served for the trial in Lagos”.
In the latest lawsuit, the lawyer for former INEC chief Ahmed Raji (SAN) told Judge Oweibo that the transfer is necessary to avoid subjecting the defendant to major difficulties.
He said Iwu resides in Abuja, but he always travels to Lagos whenever the case is brought up.
“My lord, this defendant is over 70 years old and always travels to Lagos whenever the case comes up.
“So he reserves a hotel. It would be a great stress for him to continue with this trial in Lagos, ”he said.
The senior lawyer also explained that since the transaction that led to this accusation was carried out in Abuja, the case must be heard in the country’s capital.
For his part, the EFCC consultant, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the court to refuse the request, because all the witnesses listed in the evidence, including bank employees, reside in Lagos and Ibadan. He also argued that it was the anti-graft agency’s office in the Lagos area that investigated the case.
Oyedepo claimed that the offense for which the defendant was accused affected Nigeria’s economic well-being, which can be tried anywhere in Nigeria.
The EFCC prosecutor cited the provision in Section 98 of the Criminal Justice Administration Act, which states that only the Chief Judge of the Court has the power to transfer any case.