By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
A federal High court in Benin has given the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the September 19, 2020, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and four other accused persons seven days to file reply to the motions challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try them on alleged N700 million money laundering case preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Mohammed Umar Garba gave the ruling on Tuesday after listening to the various submissions of the parties
The four other defendants listed in the Eight-count charge of money laundering charge with suit marked FHC/BE21C/ 2016, in the fund which was meant to prosecute the 2015 general election, include former Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Dan Orbih; the State chairman of the party, Tony Aziegbemi; former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr Lucky Imasuen, and Mr Efe Erimuoghae-Anthony.
The court also ordered the defendants to file their reply to the motion within the period to file their reply to the counter application which was dated on June 29, 2020 and filed on July 1, 2020 that was raised by the Prosecution, Mr Ahmed Aroga.
The court thereafter adjourned hearing on the preliminary objection to determine the motion on jurisdiction to October 15, 2020.
Earlier, Mr Charles Edosomwan (SAN), Counsel to the first defendant, objected the request by the EFCC Counsel to continue the case when the pending motions before the court were yet to be heard.
He prayed the court to grant tge defendants seven days extension of time to react to the EFCC motion on point of law in line with the rules of the court.
The Prosecution Counsel, Mr Ahmed Aroga, and Counsel to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants in the case, did not oppose Edosomwan’s application.
But, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Ahmed Aroga, however raised serious concern over attempts by the defendants to delay hearing on the case unnecessarily.
Commenting on the court ruling, Mr. Charles Edosomwan (SAN) said that “The court has also given us (defendants) within the period to file our own reply to their own counter objection”.
On his part, Mr Pascal Ugbomen, the Counsel to the 3rd respondent, Mr Tony Aiziegbemi, told journalists that “the trial judge also granted the preliminary motion which was raised by the Counsels to the defendants in the trial.
“EFCC is saying that they have jurisdiction, but, we challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter”.
Also speaking, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Ahmed Aroga, affirmed the position of the court which granted the defendants “request for seven days extension of time to react.
“They have the right to react. So, we never opposed it. It is their fundamental rights.
“The court will be going in vacation by next week, July 27, 2020.
“They are to file their reply seven days from today which will elapse the seventh day before the commencement of vacation holiday for judges.
“The court in its own wisdom gave us October 15 for hearing on the motion for jurisdiction.
Our Correspondent reports that the five defendants including Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu were present in court in line with the earlier order of court on July 7, 2020 to appear in person after the court admitted his medical report that he was sick.
The Edo APC Governorship Candidate who arrived the courtroom at 10:04.a.m, and sat near the witness box.
He was clad in a white apparel and a pair of black shoes, was escorted into the courtroom by some of his person aides.