A Federal High Court in Abuja has suspended the trial of former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita on bribery charges of N500 million.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Wednesday adjourned the trial indefinitely until the prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) purges itself of contempt of the court by withdrawing an account freeze application from a sister court.
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The defence counsel, Okonache Ogar Esq had objected to a preservation order pending trial obtained ex parte by the EFCC on assets linked to the defendants.
The order led to the freezing of the accounts of the defendants by another judge of the court, Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo.
The judge agreed with the defence that the action of the EFCC was reprehensible and condemnable, and amounted to “abuse of court process, forum shopping, and contempt of court.”
“Hearing is stayed until prosecution purges itself of contempt.”
Oyo Ita was arraigned in 2020 on 18-count alongside two others on charges of alleged N467 million contract bribery.
The defendants are: Garba Umar and Ubong Okon Effiok, while the companies are: Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd, Asanaya Projects Ltd, Slopes International Ltd, Good deal Investment Ltd, Ubong Okon Effiok, U&U Global Services Ltd and Prince Mega Logistics Ltd.
In one of the counts, the EFCC accused Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd of disguising the genuine ownership of N20m paid by the Fededal Ministry of Power into the Zenith Bank account with number 1011518656, which breached the provisions of Section 14(1) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.
The judge had on February 11 threatened to remit the case file to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho.