A former governor of Enugu State, Mr Chimaroke Nnamani, has challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos to try him on allegations of fraud to the tune of N5.3billion.
This followed a bench warrant issued by Justice Chuka Obiozor against the former governor and one Sunday Anyaogu on Monday last week.
Justice Obiozor issued the warrant following their failure to appear in court to take their pleas on the criminal charge filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, Nnamani’s lawyer, Abubakar Shamsudeen, informed the court of his client’s application challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
In the application, the former governor claimed that the court lacked the competence to try him and determine the offences against him, especially as a plea bargain agreement has been reached between him, eight others and the EFCC.
The result of the plea agreement, according to him, led to the institution and determination of an amended charge between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Rainbownet Nigeria Limited, dated July 7, 2015.
Nnamani, therefore, asked the court to among other things, set aside the charge against him and to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it’s agents, or any other persons deriving power from the Federal Government of Nigeria from inviting, instituting, maintaining or otherwise prosecuting him in respect of the charges pending the hearing and determination of his application.
His counsel also pleaded with the court to withdraw the bench warrant issued against the second defendant, Sunday Anyaogu, whom he said came to court voluntarily.
The lawyer told the court that the second defendant was not aware that the matter came up at the last adjourned date, and when informed, he voluntarily made himself available before the court on Thursday.
On his part, counsel to the EFCC, Kelvin Uzozie, told the court that he had just been served with the former governor’s application and asked for a short adjournment to enable him to respond to it.
After listening to the parties, Justice Obiozor adjourned the matter till January 19, 2018, for hearing and determination of the application, as well as to take the plea of the defendants on the charges.
The judge insisted that the bench warrant issued against the former governor subsists while that of the second defendant was withdrawn.