A Federal High court in Benin has ordered the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to appear in court on Tuesday July 14, 2020, over the alleged N700m money laundering case that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Mohammed Garba who gave the order on Tuesday following the absence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is the first defendant in the suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016, however did not order the arrest of Ize-Iyamu, who was said to be indisposed.
But the judge held that the hearing of the pending motions challenging the jurisdiction of the court would be held on July 14, 2020 after rejecting the oral request for a prolonged adjournment of the case by the Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, who argued that his client will not disobey the order of court.
Justice Garba stated that the last time somebody was here, he (the judge) made an order for the accused person to appear in court or face arrest.
Earlier in his application to the court, counsel to the first defendant (Ize-Iyamu), Mr Charles Edosomwan (SAN) told the court that his client was sick and thereafter presented Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s medical certificate which was also admitted in court as evidence without any objection by the prosecution.
The accused persons including former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, Mr Efe Erimuoghae-Anthony and others are facing eight-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N700 million meant to prosecute the 2015 general elections.
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Speaking during an interview with journalists, Mr. Pascal Ugbome, Counsel to the Second defendant, said “the case was adjourned due to the inability of the first defendant (Ize-Iyamu) who is sick to be present in court.
“And we were served with medical certificate to the effect that the first defendant is sick and he is unable to be in court because he was indisposed and then adjourned the case.
Also speaking, Mr. Charles Edosomwan, Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, said “the case couldn’t go on today. The court had to adjourn because the first defendant and the court in the circumstances, adjourned the matter to July 14, 2020 for hearing of pending motions. We have a motion challenging the jurisdiction of this court. That is what is to be held on July 14, 2020.
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“The first defendant’s motion is not the only motion in the suit. Other defendants also have their own motions challenging the jurisdiction of the this honourable court.
“There was not threat of Ize-Iyamu’s arrest, but the judge said that we should be in court on July 14.
“He (Ize-Iyamu) has never missed a court date. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will come to court if the circumstances are correct. The laws provide him (Ize-Iyamu) protection as far as he is willing to face his trial.”
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Responding to the court order, the EFCC Prosecution Counsel, Mr. Ahmed Imoovba, said the matter was adjourned consequent upon the application of the first defendant who is unavoidably absent in court. He is said to be sick. The judge ordered him (Ize-Iyamu) to appear on the next adjourned date.
Our Correspondent reports that unlike the previous hearing, security was relaxed around the court premises.
In a related development, the Federal High Court in Benin presided over by Justice Mohammed Garba on Tuesday adjourned the suit to determine the mode of Edo State All Progressives Congress Primary election to July 23, 2020, pending the determination of the pending motion of appeal at the Supreme Court in Abuja.
The court adjourned the suit, following an application of stay of execution by the Counsel to APC, Chief Henry Ogbodu, SAN at resumed hearing of the case.
The judge held that he will take a decision on the suit pending the outcome of the motion at the appellate court.