The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has dragged a former Managing Director of Oil Petroleum Limited, Mr. Nnaemeka Nwawka, to a Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State over alleged money laundering .
Standing trial with Nwawka before Justice I. B. Gafaiare are Jude Anakwe and Agbaim Nwachukwu.
The charge against the trio was brought against them in two separate petitions to EFCC by a businessman, Chief C.N. Ibeto.
When the matter came up, Nwawka’s lawyer, Mr. Nnoruka Udechukwu, (SAN), asked Justice Gafai to excuse him from the case.
He said that Chief Ibeto had continuously boasted that “no matter the arguments the defendants would put forward in the court, the defendants would be sentenced to prison at the pleasure of Ibeto.”
The lawyer added, “The applicant has substantial proof in the internet and the news media that Ibeto has the capability to deliver on his boasts, which he had made directly to the applicant.
“Even the charge sheet was numbered and indicated to be filed at the Federal High Court in Awka before the formal filing as the applicants had seen same in Abuja even before it was formally filed in court”.
Udechukwu maintained that the applicant was satisfied in his fears that he has other ongoing cases with Ibeto pending before the same court, adding that at every stage of the cases, Ibeto’s predictions of the outcome had been completely right.
He contended that the applicant was convinced that if the court went ahead to try his client and eventually convicts him, he would have been convicted according to Ibeto ‘s boasts and design, rather than according to the dictates of justice.
“In that event, the applicant would be of the view that justice had been miscarried,” he added.
He, therefore, urged the court to transfer the substantive matter to be tried by another judge in accordance with section 22 (1) of the Federal High Court Act.
The prosecuting counsel, H.O Anasor, opposed the application, arguing that although the defendants claimed that this was not a case where the Honourable Court was accused of bias but it was clear that the court was being accused of bias by the defendants.
Citing relevant authorities, the prosecuting counsel contended that there was no cogent facts to entitle the judge to disqualify himself from the matter.
He urged the court to dismiss the application and direct that the case be proceeded for trial.
The judge, Justice I. B. Gafai, adjourned the matter to June 19, 2018, for ruling on the application asking him to disqualify himself in the case.