Having struck out the preliminary objection seeking prevention from being tried, an Akure High Court has told the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oloyelogun, that he has a case to answer in the corruption charges pressed against him by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Oloyelogun was in court on Wednesday to listen to the ruling of the court on his preliminary objection.
The Speaker, one other lawmaker and a civil servant, have been accused of helping themselves with N2.4m being the fund of the Assembly.
Handing down his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye ordered that the speaker and other persons standing trials should be arraigned on April 24 and 25 dismissing the preliminary objection filed against their trial.
The anti-graft commission had brought Oleyelogun, Felemu-Gudu Bankole (a lawmaker) and a civil servant, Segun Oyadeyi to court for alleged misappropriation of a sum N2.4million belonging to the House of Assembly.
The accused allegedly misappropriated the said sum budgeted for a seminar billed to hold in Lagos.
Mentioning the case for hearing, the lawmakers objected that the EFCC has no jurisdiction over offences affecting the finances and assets of the Ondo State government on grounds that there’s a subsisting law enacted by the Assembly to tackle corruption allegations in the state.
The applicants in the preliminary objection filed by an attorney, Mr Femi Emodamori, prayed the court to decline jurisdiction and strike out the charges against them on grounds subsisting State Public Complaint Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption Commission Law passed into law and signed by Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in January 2022.
But the attorney to EFCC, Mr Fredrick Dibang argued that the court has jurisdiction because the State law enacted by State Assembly is contrary to the acts of the National Assembly that established EFCC and once there is a conflict between the law of a state and that of the National Assembly, the law of the state is suspended.
He argued further that the passage of the said law by the House of Assembly was a ploy to frustrate the corruption charges levelled against the lawmakers and the civil servant.
Handing down his ruling, Justice Adebusoye set aside the state law and held that the EFCC has the power to investigate and prosecute the lawmakers for the alleged fraud.
The judge said: “The offences being against the defendants are not state offences promulgated by the state legislation but a federal offence, having been promulgated by the national assembly, though relates to finances of Ondo state.
“Without wasting the time of this court, it settles that the complainant is empowered to investigate and prosecute the three defendants on the two counts charge as stated in the information file, being federal offences and even though the alleged ones involved belong to the Ondo state government.”