The Federal High Court Abuja has fixed Friday to hear the motion for stay of proceeding filed by former Adamawa Governor, Murtal Nyako, his son Abdulaziz and other defendants.
The defendants filed the motion to halt hearing in the ongoing fraud charged levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to allow them appeal their no-case-submission which the trial court dismissed.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, specifically fixed the date to enable counsel to the 3rd and 9th defendabts conclude argument on points of law as well as allow counsel to the 5th defendant to reply the prosecution on points of law.
Mr Kanu Agabi, SAN, counsel to Nyako and his son had earlier told the court that the application filed by his clients was for the court to stay proceeding pending an appeal at the appellate court.Adopting his processes, Agabi said that the prosecution’s reliance on Section 306 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015, to oppose his application for stay was not a true representation of the law.
“It is our humble submission that the position of the prosecution in opposing our application does not represent the correct position of the law.He insisted that the court had jurisdiction and inherent powers to adjudicate on any motion before it.
The senior lawyer argued bthat Section 306 of ACJA, being relied on by the prosecution was an issue in Onnoghen versus the Federal Government, in 2019, at the Court of Appeal.He argued that in it’s ruling, the appellate court held that a stay of proceeding was not granted in a vacuum, and where granted, it was to preserve the res (subject matter) of a case.
He maintained that granting of stay of proceeding depended on the law, facts and on the interest of justice.
“Application for a stay of proceeding, is in the interim, and at the discretion of the court, which must be exercised judicially and judiciously, he argued.He urged the court to grant his application for stay of proceeding in the interest of justice.Arguing on behalf of the 3rd defendants, Mr A.O Dada urged the court to grant the application for stay.
“This application is meant for your lordship to stay proceeding pending when an appeal is entertained.“Your lordship is aware that this matter started since 2015, and the prosecution took six years to call witnesses and present its case.
“If the prosecution took six years to open and argue it’s case, the 3rd defendant is asking just for a while, say 6 months for the application for stay to be heard at the Court of Appeal.“If at the end of the day, the application is dismissed at the appellate court, parties are here to continue the matter before this court.
“With due respect to my lord, if the Court of Appeal disagrees with the I instant court, the matter ends there, and valuable judicial time would have been saved.”Dada prayed the court to exercise it’s discretion in favour of the defendant.
For his part, counsel to the 5th defendant, Mr Olumide Olujimi also prayed the court to stay proceeding pending the determination of an appeal marked CA/ABJ/CR/596/2021 between Blue Opal Ltd versus FRN, at the Court of Appeal.In response, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Sylvanus Tahir said he was vehemently opposed to the application, describing it as incompetent and an abuse of court process.
Tahir submitted that every superior court of record was regulated by procedures and rules, adding that the court as presently constituted, was sitting as a criminal court, and so, the law regulating the procedure of the court was the ACJA.He prayed the court to dismiss the application jointly and severally.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court had on July 19, dismissed the no-case-submission filed by Nyako, his son and three others.Consequently, the court ordered them to enter their defence in the on going trial.NAN also reports that the EFCC is prosecuting the former governor, his son and the other defendants on money laundering charges.
The other defendants are Zulkifik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd.The anti-graft agency filed the charge against the former governor and the defendants on July 7, 2015.
They were arraigned on Oct. 17, 2015, on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering. (NAN)