Kolawole Babalola
Accused persons in the over N8 billion currency recycling fraud at the Central Bank of Nigeria, today asked the trial judge, Justice Olayinka Faji of the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State to hands off the case for the matter be reassigned to another judge by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

Though the matter was slated for commencement of trial,  was stalled as counsel to the second and third accused persons, Barrister Olalekan Ojo told the court that it was doubtful his client will get fair hearing from the trial judge. Ojo informed the court that he had filed a motion, praying it to stay further proceedings.

According to  the defence counsel, his clients cannot get fair trial before the Court presided over by Justice Faji, as he alleged that  the judge had convicted them by his pronouncements in his earlier ruling on bail applications of June 19, 2015. The counsel specifically made reference to Justice Faji’s pronouncements on the defendants on page 93-97 of the ruling.

He said he had filed a motion dated June 26, 2015, praying for “an order of the honourable court staying proceedings or further proceedings in charge No FHC/IB/34c/2015 pending the determination of the second and third defendants’/applicants’ appeals against the ruling of the honourable court delivered on 19 June, 2015 in which appeal the second and third defendants/applicants have requested the Court of Appeal to make an order directing the honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to transfer or assign the charge no FHC/IB/34c/2015 to another Judge of the Federal High Court for trial".

Counsel to the first defendant, Otunba Olayinka Bolanle, aligned with Ojo and informed the court of his motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter. Bolanle told the court that a motion was filed with regards to the “to propriety to continue with the trial, to expressions made in the ruling to the first defendant.” He added that the motion was to challenge the partisanship and the jurisdiction of the court. However, Counsel to the fourth defendant, Dare Adebayo, submitted that his team was ready to continue with the trial.

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had expressed his readiness to continue with the trial. He told the court that one of his witnesses was in court.

However, Justice Faji stated that  the matter could not continue because of the development, adding that he will have to wait for the determination of the appeal. He consequently, adjourned to Wednesday July 1, 2015, for all counsel to file motions and counter motions in the charge preferred against some ex- Central Bank Staff and staff of some commercial banks. The accused persons include Kolawole Babalola, Olaniran Muniru Adeola, Toogun Kayode Philip, Ajuwon Bolade and Samuel Ogbeide.

Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity
26th June, 2015

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