The trial of the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, over alleged N1.4 billion fraud, could not proceed yesterday before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos, following the transfer of the case to a new judge, Prof. Chuka Obiozor.
Usoro is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 10-count charge bordering on fraud.
He was arraigned before the court on December 18, 2018, before Hassan, and his plea was taken.
Hassan had subsequently admitted him to bail in the sum of N250 million with one surety in like sum.
The court then adjourned the case until February 5, March 5, and March 6, for continuation of trial.
However, yesterday, when journalists approached the court for coverage of the trial, it was observed that the case was not on the case list.
On enquiry, journalists were informed that the case had been transferred to Justice Obiozor by the Chief Judge, following application to that effect.
Meanwhile, in Justice Obiozor’s court, the case was also not itemised on the case list, as the judge was said to be away on a workshop.
Also named in the charge against Usoro is the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom State, Gov. Emmanuel Udom, who is described in the charge as being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution.”
Others charged are the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Udomah; the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General, Uwemedimo Nwoko; and Margaret Ukpe.
The defendants were said to be at large.
In the charge marked FHC/418c/18, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused committed the offence on May 14, 2016.
The commission alleged that Usoro conspired with others to commit the offence within the jurisdiction of the court. He was alleged to have conspired to convert N1.4 billion, property of Akwa Ibom State Government, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful activity.
The prosecution said it ncluded criminal breach of trust.
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