The EFCC on Tuesday re-arraigned a lawyer to Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uyiekpen Osagie-Giwa, and his son, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, before the Federal High Court in Lagos on a three-count charge of money laundering to the tune of $2 million.
The duo was first arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on a 3-count charge bordering on the alleged offence on August 14. They both pleaded not guilty.
The EFCC said in a statement that the accused were both re-arraigned before Justice Chuka Obiozor for the first time.
The commission said the lead counsel to the first and second defendants, Ahmed Raji and Quarkers Norrison, were represented by Johnson Samuel and Olufemi Anjorin respectively.
They reportedly applied in writing to the court to adjourn the matter on the grounds that the lead counsel for both defendants were not in the court.
It added that the lawyers also informed the court that a letter had been written to the Administrative Judge of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, seeking directive to consolidate the case as same charges were filed against the defendants before both Justice Obiozor and Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke
The prosecution counsel, Kufre Uduak, however, confirmed the receipt of the ‘consolidation letter’ and the applications for adjournment.
Mr Uduak who held brief for Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the plea was to be taken by the defendants and not their counsel, adding that, “absence of lead counsel should not stall proceedings given the fact that they are represented in court.”
“There was no concrete basis for the defence counsel to seek the administrative judge’s permission for consolidation of the case.
“The matter before Justice Oweibo is not in any way related to the case brought before your lordship, and does not require any form of consolidation,” Mr Uduak reporteldy told the court.
Justice Obiozor, therefore, overruled the prayers of the defence for adjournment and ordered that the defendants take their plea.
He then held that the court cannot predetermine the decision of the administrative judge on the consolidation of the cases.
“The court has to wait to hear from the administrative judge on consolidation but, however, the defendants shall take their plea,” Mr Obiozor ruled.
The defendants then pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In view of their plea, the prosecution counsel, Mr Uduak, asked for a trial date.
Counsel to the defendants urged the court to allow their clients to continue to enjoy the bail terms and conditions granted by Justice Oweibo.
Justice Obiozor acceded to the request of the defendants.
He adjourned the case to December 5 for possible hearing as parties await the decision of the administrative judge on consolidation.