By Olalekan Awojodu Abuja.
A Federal High Court has threatened to struck out a suit by former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Kenneth Minimah (rtd ), seeking to stop his planned prosecution in an alleged N13 billion fraud.
On Wednesday, the trial Justice Inyang Eden blamed the Plaintiffs for not putting it’s house in order after his counsel, Mr Efut Okoi asked the judge to give him more time to enable him complete his amended processes.
Okoi attributed the delay in amending his processes to one of his witnesses being indisposed. “In the course of filing our amended statement of claims, one of our witnesses was indisposed. We brought this to the notice of the defendants. We are in the process of filing; We apologize, my Lord, “he said.
But Justice Ekwo wondered why an application that was brought since 2020 has taken almost two years and yet, the plaintiffs have not been able to put their house in order.
“You are not serious. I have told you how I feel. I don’t know how that feelings will manifest hereafter,” the Judge reacted.
However, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC,) Mr Sylvanus Tahir, said he viewed the General’s lawyer’s attitude as a “serious concern” because it is delaying their prosecution. “They came with an ex-parte motion to restrain the EFCC from criminally prosecuting them before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory FCT . Time waits for no one,” he insisted.
In the end, the Judge agreed to give the plaintiffs a grace of one month to do the needful. “If on the next day, you come to court and say you have just served them (respondents) or you have served them seven days before the adjourned date, I will strike out this suit.
Justice Ekwo fixed March 23 for hearing of the suit.
General Minimah, Major General A. O. Adetayo,and Brigadier-General R. I. Odi, had in 2020 instituted a case before Justice Ekwo in which they prayed for an order restraining the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and the anti-graft agency from trying them at an FCT High Court on an alleged N13.7Billion fraud belonging to the Nigerian Army and criminal breach of trust.
Part of their arguments are that as Army General’s, they can only be arraigned and/ or prosecuted by a Court Martial within the Nigerian Army.