The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday granted the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, permission to file additional proof of evidence in the trial of Diezani Alison-Madueke’s aide Jide Omokore and others.
Omokore was arraigned alongside Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo, on an amended nine-count charge of diversion of money.
In his ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that having evaluated the arguments in the application to provide more evidence and going by the amended charge filed by the prosecution, there is no doubt that they are offences which gave the court jurisdiction.
The court held that the essence of practice direction is not intended to take away the jurisdiction of the court, even when it had been granted the jurisdictions.
“Section 379 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the prosecution can at any time before judgment file additional evidence, as the law is trite on this.
“That section does not contain any restriction as to admission of additional evidence, nor does it say that it is only evidence that is placed that can be review”, the court held.
The Judge said that where additional evidence is brought by the prosecution, the approach is not for the defence to seek for the charge to be dismissed.
” It is for the defendant to seek for more time and this is not what the defendant has asked of the court.
Counsel to Membere (the fifth defendant), Folabi Uti, had argued that in respect of the new proof of evidence being filed, there was need for the defendant to approach the court for interpretation.
He argued that the prosecution should not allow a year after charging the defendant and after presenting two witnesses to bring additional proof of evidence.
“The prosecution has concluded investigation that is why the defendant is in court, bringing more evidence means when the charge was filed, investigation was still on-going,” he said.
In his argument, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the purpose of “front loading” and serving the defence is to enable them prepare.
The alleged diverted money was said to be part of the proceeds from the sale of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.
Two of Omokore’s companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited, were also joined as defendants.