Justice F. Giwa-Ogunbanjo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, today February 3, 2022, adjourned the trial of a former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Nicholas Mutu Ebomo till March 29, 2022 to rule on the application by the prosecution to amend the charge.
Mutu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside Airworld Technologies Ltd and Airworld Technologies Ltd, for allegedly receiving gratification for influencing an NDDC contract.
The contract was for the collection of statutory levies from oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta region.
At Thursday’s sitting, prosecuting counsel Ekele Iheanacho presented a 13-count amended charge bordering on money laundering and collection of gratification and sought the leave of the court for the defendants to take fresh pleas to the amended charge.
But the defence counsel, J.O Asoluka, objected, arguing that at this stage of the trial an amendment was not necessary and unfair to the defendants.
He further said cases of bribery and receipt of gratification is within the remit of the Code of Conduct Bureau, not the EFCC.
However, Iheanacho responded by stating that the law allows for an amendment. “This is a case of money laundering and acceptance of gratification. My lord, it is stated clearly in Section 115 of the Evidence Act that an amendment can be made provided it does not deviate from the matter brought before the court. So, I urge this Honorable Court to discountenance the argument of the defence and accept the charge,” he said.
He cited the case of AG Ondo Vs AGF (2002) and Nwankwoala Vs FRN (2018) to back his argument.
Justice Ogunbanjo adjourned the matter till March 29, 30, 31, 2022 for ruling.