By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
A federal High court in Benin has ordered the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the September 19, 2020 Governorship election in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to appear in court on Tuesday July 2020 over prolonged adjournment of the alleged N700m money laundering case 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.
Justice Garba however did not order the arrest of the first defendant who was said to be indisposed.
But, judge held that the hearing of 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 Counsels to the defendants.
Justice Garba stated that the last time the first defendant was here (court), he made an order for the accused person to be in court 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 medical certificate which was also admitted in court as evidence without any objection by the prosecution.
The four other defendants who are facing Eight-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N700 million meant to prosecute the 2015 general election include former Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Dan Orbih; the State chairman of the party, Tony Aziegbemi; former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, and Mr Efe Erimuoghae-Anthony were however present in court.
Speaking during an interview with journalists, Mr. pascal Ugbomen, Counsel to the Second defendant (Mr Tony Aziegbemi) in the suit, 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 the first defendant, 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 the 14, July 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.
“The first defendant motion is not the only motion in the suit. Other defendants also have their own motions challenging the jurisdiction of the these honourable court.
“There was not threat of Ize-Iyamu’s arrest, but, the judge said that we should be in court on the 14th of July.
“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.
Responding to the court order, 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 in the case, 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 execution by the Counsel to APC, Chief Henry Ogbodu, SAN at resumed hearing of the case.
The judge said that will take a decision on the suit pending the outcome of the motion at the appellate court.