Edo SUBEB Fraud; Former SSG, Others Challenge Jurisdiction of Court



rp_efcc-11-150x150.jpgJustice E. A. Edigin of the Edo State High Court has adjourned to Thursday October 30, hearing on the preliminary objection in the case instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against the quartet of Joseph Sule Emoabino, David Igbiniba, Aghator Efe and Dr Simon Imuekemhe ( former Chairman, Secretary, Director of Finance and Accounts, State Universal Basic Education Board and a former Secretary to Government of Edo State respectively).

At the resumed hearing on Monday, October 27, counsel to the first accused, Charles Adogah, SAN, told the court that he had filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court and that the charge against the first accused person is irregular and unconstitutional.

However, EFCC counsel, Aso Larry Peters told the court that the matter was for trial and that he came with two witnesses. He said he was served with notice of the preliminary objection by the defence counsel that morning. “The notice was filed in June but served on us this morning. We are surprised by this motion. We came for trial but we are surprised by the objection challenging the jurisdiction and raising constitutional issues”

EFCC counsel said in view of the motion he was statutorily entitled to time to response.

Justice Edigin then asked the defence counsel if he took cognisance of  Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Law and that the matter was meant to  be heard all through the working days of the  week . Counsel to the first accused person who said he was appearing in the matter for the first time, told the court that he was at liberty to raise the issue of objection at any time.

Justice Edigin said she would partly blame the Senior Advocate for not ensuring that prosecution was served before now. She then adjourned to Thursday, October 30, for hearing of the preliminary objection.

The accused persons were first arraigned by the Commission in February 2015 on an 8-count charge of allegedly spending sums allocated for a particular project on another project, contrary to Section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

One of the counts reads: “Joseph Sule Emoabino, David Eson Igbiniba, Aghator Gaskin Efe and Dr. Simon Imuekemhe being chairman, Secretary, Director of Finance and Accounts of State Universal Basic Education Board, Edo state and Secretary to Government of Edo State respectively, on or about the 5th of June, 2012 in  Benin within the jurisdiction of Edo State High court spent the sum of N16,853,242.58 (sixteen million eight hundred and fifty three thousand, two hundred and forty two naira, fifty eight kobo) for construction of perimeter fence in Ivbiore Primary School Ugbor, a project not covered by the intervention funds allocated by the state Universal Basic Education Commission/state Government and thereby committed an offence”

Particulars of count two read that the accused persons spent the sum of N13, 216, 457.26 for the renovation of six classrooms block in Ikirodah Primary School Ugiekha, a project not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.

On count five, they were alleged to have spent the sum of N12, 405,154.25 for the renovation of six classrooms blocks in Ikabigbo Primary School Ikabigbo, a project not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.

Particulars of counts six and seven alleged that the accused persons spent the sum of N22, 190,434.77 and N13, 146.757.42 for the renovation of six classroom/office blocks in Ogan/Oviawe Primary Schools and construction of perimeter fence, water closet suites and drilling of borehole in Ebenezer Primary School Benin-City, projects not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.

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