Nigeria: $50m Fraud Case – Court Reserves Ruling On Legality of Prosecution of Amaechi, Others

Port Harcourt — A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, yesterday, reversed its decision on a move by the state government to handover the prosecution of the former Governor Rotimi Amaechi; candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2023 poll, Tonye Cole, and five others in the $50 million fraud case against them to a private prosecutor.

Trial judge, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, reserved ruling after argument by the parties in the matter on whether it was right for the public prosecutor to hand over the prosecution of a criminal matter to a private prosecutor without meeting some legal requirements.

This followed the appearance of Mr. Donald Denwigwe, SAN, with a certificate issued from the Office of the Attorney-General of the state to take over the prosecution of the criminal matter.

But, Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, counsel for Amaechi, opposed the appearance of Denwigwe to take over the trial of the ex-governor and others.

Owonikoko stated that under Section 109, subsection 1E, of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, the certificate presented by Denwigwe would not be accommodated.

Similarly, Bode Olanikpekun, SAN, said criminal prosecutor was sui generis and extremely so, because the liberty of citizens was at stake, informing the court that the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th defendants have not been served with the originating processes in the matter.

Meanwhile, Godwin Omoaka, SAN, counsel for the 7th defendant, Tonye Cole, said the document presented to court by Denwigwe was incompetent and did not comply with Section 109 of ACJL, on which it was issued.

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