Non-Declaration Of Assets: Uzodimma Wins Round One

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Okon Abang yesterday granted the request by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF),Justice Abubakar Malami to take over prosecution in the case brought before the court by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) against Senator Hope Uzodimma.

The SPIP last year dragged the Senator before the Court over alleged non-declaration of assets.

However, Senator Hope Uzodimma through his lawyer, Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), petitioned the AGF, alleging political witch-hunt by the SPIP and urged the office to wade into the matter.

When the  matter came up  in court yesterday, an Assistant Chief State Counsel in the  AGF’s Chambers, Barrister Pius Aluku who represented the Attorney General requested the court to grant the AGF permission  to take over prosecution in the matter  as it was the statutorily responsibility of the office to prosecute such matters.

Aluku argued that the decision by the AGF to take over the case was also to guide against abuse of office and miscarriage of justice as the SPIP does not have prosecutorial powers.

He averred that the SPIP had no powers in the instant case as only the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had the powers to arraign and prosecute alleged offenders of non-declaration of assets. 

Earlier, Lawyer to SPIP, Celcius Ukpong had opposed the request by the AGF to take over prosecution in the matter, insisting that the Panel must continue with the prosecution, citing various authorities which he could not substantiate.

After listening to the counter arguments by counsel to the prosecution and defendant, Justice Okon Abang ruled that the AGF had the constitutional right take over prosecution of any matter on behalf of the Federal Government at any time it deems fit.

He said there was no sentiments in the matter as the provisions of the constitution were clear and have to be applied. The judge adjourned the matter to Monday, June 3, 2109 for hearing.

With the takeover of prosecution by the AGF, it will dust up the file to ascertain whether it is a political witch-hunt or otherwise and prosecute the case on its merit.

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