The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has informd a Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a motion filed by a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenadi Usman, seeking to commit the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to prison for alleged contempt.
The anti-graft agency made this submission yesterday, at the resumed trial of Mrs. Usman alongside a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, one, Danjuma Yusuf and a company, John Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, on a 17-count charge of alleged N4.6 billion fraud.
The EFCC, in the charge marked FHC/L/C/251c/2016, accused the defendants of conspiracy, unlawful retention of proceeds of theft and money laundering.
Mrs. Usman had in a motion on notice filed through her lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) argued that the inclusion of her name on the looters’ list released by the information minister during the pendency of an alleged fraud case against her is contemptuous.
The former minister added that Lai Mohammed’s action is an attempt to prejudice the mind of the public against her in the case pending before the court.
Reacting to Usman’s lawyer arguments on the motion, counsel to EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to decline the Nenadi’s request for the information minister to be summoned to explain why he should not be committed to prison over his action.
Oyedepo insisted that the applicant (Nenadi) was never referred to as a looter by the information minister saying what was published by some newspapers only bordered on allegations and cannot be said to be prejudicial to the applicant’s case in court.
He further argued that there was no advertorial from the Ministry of Information to substantiate the claims against the information minister.
“The minister of information is not a party to the criminal proceedings against the applicant. There is no evidence to show that the alleged contemnor works with the various media houses that published the alleged offensive publication. Besides, there were no allegations against the media houses that published the alleged offensive publication.
“There was nothing that connects the ministry of information to the motion which was taken out to annoy the prosecution. The motion is lacking in substance, it is an abuse of court’s process and should be dismissed”, Oyedepo submitted.
Justice Mohammed Aikawa reserved his ruling on the motion until Nov. 16.