Nigeria: Former Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives and Deputy arraigned

By Correspondent Chinyere Ogbonna – Former speaker of the House of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole has asked the Federal High Court trying him for alleged inflation of contracts to quash the 16-count charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].

In an application filed by his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, Bankole challenged the competency of the prosecutor, Festus Keyamo to exercise prosecutorial powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation when as at the time of filing the charges; there was no Attorney General of the Federation to give him the fiat to prosecute.

The former speaker argued that the last Attorney General of the Federation was Mohammed Adoke who vacated office upon the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council on May 28, this year.

He noted that the AGF is the only officer that has the constitutional empower to issue fiat to private legal practitioner to institute or continue criminal proceedings in the High Court.

He noted that the charges were filed on June 7, 2011 when no AGF was in office.

Mr. Bankole also argued that he was not answerable to any acts or omission done pursuant to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, the law he was accused to have contravened.

He said that the proof of evidence did not connect him with the items allegedly procured in contravention of the public procurement act.

The former speaker argued that he was never by law or in practice, a staff of the National Assembly under section 9 of the National Assembly Service Commission Act or in the public service of the federation under the Act.

He further stated that he was neither the accounting officer nor the procurement officer and wondered why he would be accused of inflating contract sums.

Mr. Bankole described as dubious some of the charges which alleged conspiracy between him and “others now at large” because none of the persons who constituted the “body of principal officers of the House of Representatives” was at large.

The former speaker said that he was not likely to have a fair trial because he had been vilified, demonised and condemned unfairly in the public domain.

Mr. Bankole was recently arrested by officials of the Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC immediately after handing over on allegation of fraud, inliction of contract prices, illegal transfer of money into a proxy account in the United Kingdom while in office among others.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bankole and his deputy Alhaji Usman Nafada were arraigned at an Abuja High Court but they both pleaded guilty to the fresh charges of misappropriation of about N37 billion loan obtained from two commercial banks.

Hearing in their bail applications has been fixed for Thursday, June 16 by Justice Suleiman Belgore.

The judge ordered that the two accused persons be remanded in the custody of economic and financial crimes commission pending their bail.