By Taiye Agbaje
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, accused Paul Erokoro, SAN, counsel to James Nolan, a director in Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), of deploying a delay tactic in the ongoing trial.
EFCC lawyer, Bala Sanga, made the allegation before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja.But Erokoro disagreed with Sanga, describing the allegation as “a blackmail.”At the resumed hearing, Sanga informed that the matter was slated for cross examination of the first prosecution witness (PW1), Temitope Erinomo, a Principal Compliant Officer in the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
While the cross examination was going on, the anti-graft agency’s lawyer raised objection to some questions which Erokoro put to the PW1.Sanga, who interjected, called the attention of the court to the fact that Erokoro, who only appeared for Nolan (2nd defendant) cannot be representing Lurgi Consult Limited (1st defendant) in the trial.He said the questions put across to Erinomo indicated that he was representing the two defendantsSanga argued that though the company was not represented by any counsel, the senior lawyer cannot advocate for the firm.He alleged that Erokoro’s action was a ploy to delay proceedings in the matter just like a sister case before another judge which, he said, had lingered for about three years.Sanga told Justice Mohammed that three years after the sister case commenced, it was disheartening that they were still on the first prosecution witness..
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had sued Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI); ICIL Limited and Nolan as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively before Justice Okon Abang in 2019.However, the case was reassigned to Justice Donatus Okorowo around September 2021, following the transfer of Justice Abang to Warri division of FHC.Reacting to Sanga’s allegation of deploying a delay tactic, Erokoro disagreed with him.“
My lord, I have one word for this; blackmail,” he said, describing the EFCC lawyer’s allegation as “a blackmail.”He said Sanga cannot arm-twist the court into believing his statement.Erokoro said that the sister case which Sanga mentioned involved 9.6 billion dollars with over 20, 000 pages of evidence exhibited and that he saw no reason the matter should not take three years in cross examining a witness.
Justice Mohammed, who assured that the case before him would be dispensed with as quickly as possible, ruled that Erokoro should bear in mind that he only appeared for the 2nd defendant (Nolan).The judge adjourned the matter until June 1 for trial continuation.(NAN)