An Ikeja High Court on Wednesday dismissed an application by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke, seeking to discontinue the prosecution of five former employees of the Lagos Trade Fair Complex.
The defendants: Bassey Eyamba, Francis Dajilak, Lazarus Okocha, Barnabas Kolo and Eunice Okafor, were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were arraigned on Nov. 28, 2013 before Justice Kudirat Jose charged with stealing N247 million belonging to the Lagos Trade Fair Complex.
The EFCC alleged that the accused fraudulently obtained various sums of money belonging to their employer by renting and selling some plots of land owned by the complex.
According to the charge, the offences contravene Sections 390 (6) and 516 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State, 2003.
However, the AGF, through its counsel, Mr D.E. Kaswe, had on Nov.14, filed a nolle proseque (notice of discontinuance) before the court.
Kaswe said the AGF had exercised his power in accordance with Section 174 of the Constitution, and therefore urged the court to discontinue the case.
Opposing the application, the EFCC counsel, Mr Anslem Ozioko, argued that the AGF had no power to discontinue a case filed under state laws.
In her ruling, Jose upheld the argument of the EFCC, noting that the powers of the AGF and the Attorney General (AG) of a state were distinctly spelt out in the Constitution.
She said: “Section 211 (a) of the 1999 Constitution is clear with respect to this matter. It is only the Lagos AG and not the AGF that can enter a nolle proseque with respect to this suit.
“The EFCC has the fiat of Lagos State Attorney General to prosecute this matter and that fiat has not been withdrawn.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the matter was adjourned till Feb. 16, 2015 for trial.