At the resumed hearing on Monday, October 27, counsel to the first accused, Charles Adogah, SAN, told the court that he had filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court and that the charge against the first accused person is irregular and unconstitutional. [showads ad=GLO]However, EFCC counsel, Aso Larry Peters told the court that the matter was for trial and that he came with two witnesses. He said he was served with notice of the preliminary objection by the defense counsel that morning. “The notice was filed in June but served on us this morning. We are surprised by this motion. We came for trial but we are surprised by the objection challenging the jurisdiction and raising constitutional issues.” EFCC counsel said in view of the motion he was statutorily entitled to time to response.[showads ad=GLO]
Justice Edigin then asked the defense counsel if he took cognizance of Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Law and that the matter was meant to be heard all through the working days of the week . Counsel to the first accused person who said he was appearing in the matter for the first time, told the court that he was at liberty to raise the issue of objection at any time. [showads ad=GLO]Justice Edigin said she would partly blame the Senior Advocate for not ensuring that prosecution was served before now. She then adjourned to Thursday, October 30, for hearing of the preliminary objection. The accused persons were first arraigned by the commission in February 2013 on an 8-count charge of allegedly spending sums allocated for a particular project on another project, contrary to Section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000. One of the counts reads: “Joseph Sule Emoabino, David Eson Igbiniba, Aghator Gaskin Efe and Dr. Simon Imuekemhe being chairman, Secretary, Director of Finance and Accounts of State Universal Basic Education Board, Edo State and Secretary to Government of Edo State respectively, on or about the 5th of June, 2012 in Benin within the jurisdiction of Edo State High court spent the sum of N16,853,242.58 (sixteen million eight hundred and fifty three thousand, two hundred and forty two naira, fifty-eight kobo) for construction of perimeter fence in Ivbiore Primary School Ugbor, a project not covered by the intervention funds allocated by the state Universal Basic Education Commission/state Government and thereby committed an offence.” [showads ad=GLO]
Particulars of count two read that the accused persons spent the sum of N13, 216, 457.26 for the renovation of six classrooms block in Ikirodah Primary School Ugiekha, a project not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government. [showads ad=GLO]On count five, they were alleged to have spent the sum of N12, 405,154.25 for the renovation of six classrooms blocks in Ikabigbo Primary School Ikabigbo, a project not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government.
Particulars of counts six and seven alleged that the accused persons spent the sum of N22, 190,434.77 and N13, 146.757.42 for the renovation of six classroom/office blocks in Ogan/Oviawe Primary Schools and construction of perimeter fence, water closet suites and drilling of borehole in Ebenezer Primary School Benin-City, projects not covered by the intervention funds of SUBEB/State government. [showads ad=GLO]