Supreme Court Fixes 13 Dec To Rule On Bode George&Rsquo;S Appeal


Supreme Court has fixed 13 December to deliver judgment in an appeal filed by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George who is challenging his conviction by a Lagos State High Court in 2009.
George, who was a former chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, alongside former officials at NPA, including Alhaji Aminu Dabo, Captain Oluwasegun Abidoye, Alhaji Abdulahi Aminu Tafida, Alhaji Zanna Maidaribe and Mr. Sule Aliyu, were tried and convicted for offences bordering on corruption, inflation of contracts and contracts splitting.
Counsel to George and the others, Chief Kanu Agabi and Joseph Daudu, both senior advocates of Nigeria, told a panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Tanko Mohammed, that their clients were wrongfully convicted and contended that the Lagos State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to try their clients.
Daudu argued that: “The Lagos State High Court has no jurisdiction over the offences, the appropriate court to have gone to would have been the FHC, as the NPA is an institution created by a statute of the National Assembly.
“I urge your lordships to hold that the trial should have been before a FHC, that having not done so, the entire proceeding is a nullity”.
He argued that the trial of their clients at the Lagos State High Court was a complete no trial and called on the court to hold that, apart from the fact that the Court of Appeal did not consider the issue of constitutionality; the entire trial was a breach of the Nigerian Constitution.
“The nature of the disobedience of a lawful order must be criminalized by the National Assembly. If the main offences were not proved, there is no way conspiracy could have been proved,” Daudu insisted.
On his part, Chief Agabi posited that the witnesses’ testimonies were favourable to their client.
He argued that the witnesses said if the contracts were split at all, that they were split at another level and pointed out that the respondent dismissed the evidence of these witnesses.
He concluded by stating that the allegation of splitting contracts was not proved at the trial court.
Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Festus Keyamo, in his response urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the defence lawyers and to uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the decision of the trial court.
He informed the Supreme Court that George and others were convicted for disobedience of lawful orders, and not splitting of contracts and further argued that the Lagos State High Court had the jurisdiction to try the offences as the offences were committed within the territory of the court.

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