The case involving a former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has been adjourned till June 10, 2015.
Sylva along with Francis Okokwo, Gbenga Balogun, and Samuel Ogbuku, allegedly used three companies – Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited, and Haloween-Blue Construction and Logistics Limited to move about N19.2 billion from Bayelsa State coffers between 2009 and 2012, under false pretence of using the withdrawn money to augment salaries of the state government workers.
At the last adjourned date, the trial judge had fixed Monday, June 8, 2015 for ruling on two pending applications by the defendants challenging the competence of the charge and the jurisdiction of the court. Counsel to Sylva, L. O. Fagbemi (SAN) had brought an application before the court praying that the charges be quashed, while counsel to the fourth accused person, Ajayi Olowo, in his own application, challenged the jurisdiction of the court.
Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had argued that there was indeed a prima facie case against Sylva and his co-accused, adding that the court had jurisdiction to try the case since the offences committed took place in Abuja. However, rather than give a ruling today as expected, the case only came up for mention in court.
According to Justice Mohammed, “hearing is already concluded, but certain issues have now come up, which will delay ruling as was expected.” He attributed the new development to a letter dated June 1, 2015, which he received from Jacobs.
He said that the prosecution was requesting to amend the charges against Sylva, because “the case against Sylva before Justice E. S Chukwu of the Federal High Court had been withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP.” He noted that the prosecution, according to the letter, intended to consolidate the charges against Sylva. Justice Mohammed thereafter adjourned till June 10, 2015 to give his ruling, noting that the content of the letter must be part of the proceedings.