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Court stops Oyo-Ita’s trial, accuses EFCC of ‘judge shopping’

The judge said the anti-corruption agency’s conduct was reprehensible and condemnable.

• March 3, 2021
Winifred Oyo-Ita (Credit: TVC)

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered a stay of proceeding in the ongoing trial of the former Head of Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and others.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in his ruling, described the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s act in obtaining an ex parte order for the freezing of bank accounts of the fourth, fifth and sixth defendants in the matter before another court as “an abuse of court process.”

The court described the EFCC’s conduct as “judge shopping,” accusing it of trying to get a favourable court judgment.

The judge said the anti-corruption agency’s conduct was reprehensible and condemnable.

Mr. Taiwo, who was visibly angry with the anti-graft agency’s action, said it was a contemptuous move.

The judge then ordered a stay of proceedings in the trial until the EFCC and its lawyer “do the needful” by withdrawing the application before the other court.

Mr. Taiwo did not fix any date for the court to reconvene sitting on the matter.

The EFCC had filed an ex parte motion with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1202/2020 before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo for the freezing of the bank accounts of the fourth, fifth, and sixth defendants in the alleged N570 million money laundering charge preferred against the former federal civil service boss and others while the matter is ongoing before Mr. Taiwo.

While Ms. Oyo-Ita is the first defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CR/60/2020 before Mr. Taiwo, Garba Umar, and his two companies, Slopes International Ltd and Gooddeal Investment Ltd, are the fourth, fifth, and sixth defendants, respectively.

Others include Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd and Asanaya Projects as second and third, while Ubong Okon Effiok and his two companies, U & U Global Services Ltd and Prince Mega Logistics Ltd, are seventh, eighth, and ninth defendants, respectively.

The defence lawyers had urged the court to discontinue the trial until the EFCC’s counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, has withdrawn the application before Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, describing the act as an abuse of the court process.

Also, Mr. Taiwo, on February 11, threatened to return the case file of Ms. Oyo-Ita’s trial to the chief judge, John Tsoho, for reassignment.

He then fixed the ruling on the matter until today, March 3.

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