A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday, ordered the re-arraignment of a former presidential aide, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over N1.6 billion fraud. Dudafa, an ex-aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, is charged alongside one Iwejuo Nna.
EFCC alleged that they committed the offence on June 11, 2013. And were first arraigned in 2016, before Justice Mohammed Idris, on 23-counts of conspiracy to conceal proceeds of crime amounting to N1.6 billion.
Justice Idris ordered the re-arraignment of the accused after dismissing objections to the amended 22 count charge preferred against them by the EFCC.
The accused were consequently, re-arraigned on the amended charge, and they pleaded not guilty to same. The court then allowed the accused to continue with the previous bail granted by the court.
After their re-arraignment, the defense informed the court that they would need to call their witnesses afresh.
In response, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that even if they wished to recall any of the prosecution witnesses, he would oblige them.
The court adjourned the case to November 19, for trial by 1 p.m.
Before their re-arraignment, the court had delivered a ruling, dismissing the objections to the amended charge. The court held that an amendment was permissible by law at any time before judgment, adding that once there is an amendment, the accused is expected to plead to same.
“Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, allows the court to conclude part heard matters within reasonable time, and I have no doubt that this falls within the ambit of the law.
“This court is sitting pursuant to a flat, and this fiat is not open ended, but will expire after its time, and the trial will begin before another judge.
“The defendants are at liberty to call or recall any witness in the case; in my opinion, a reasonable time is when the time for justice does not wear out against the parties, but is seen to be done,” the court had held.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the prosecution closed its case on March 16, but the accused opted to make a no-case submission in its defense.
Defense had urged the court to dismiss the case, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish any case against them.