From Ron Jacob, Jos.
Investors of almost a billion Naira in a wonder bank in Jos on Friday decried the lack-lustre and slow pace of prosecuting Bishop Jonas Katung and three others at the Jos Federal High Court over alleged fraud.
The spokesman of the investors, one Davou, told the newsmen shortly after court proceedings in Jos, that “from what happened in court today, we are afraid of losing this case and our investments.’’
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in November 2015, arraigned Bishop Katung, Okewole Dayo, and Dadin Kowa Micro-finance Bank before former Justice Ambrose Allagoa of the Federal High Court on a 24-count-charge, bordering on conspiracy, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence over a billion naira.
The accused persons were alleged to have conspired to form a cooperative society, through which they allegedly swindled unsuspecting “co-operators” of a billion naira.
It was further alleged that instead of investing the contributions of members as agreed, the accused persons allegedly deposited the funds in a bank, Dadin Kowa Micro Finance Bank and subsequently withdrew same using proxies.
But the investors were apprehensive when the case came up for continuation of hearing, before Justice Musa Kurya. Counsel to the anti-graft agency, Mr Benjamin Manji, was absent without explanation.
Mr Habila Ardzard, Counsel to the Dayo, the 2nd defendant, had told the court that it appeared EFCC was not serious about prosecuting its case considering the delay tactic it had adopted.
“My Lord, we are surprised over the action of the counsel to EFCC, who is not in court today and had not deemed it fit to either send a letter or make a simple phone call to the staff or Registrar of this court on his absence.
“Whatever may be the reason for his absence in court today, courtesy demands that the court must be informed of his absence to enable the court take a decision.
“It has been three years now, when the EFCC dragged our client along other accused persons to this court and we have not moved forward with the case,’’ he argued.
Ardzard said, “According to the Criminal Justice Act, matters like this one, are for quick determination in line with section 36 (1) of the constitution, which says that an accused is to be tried within a specific time frame.’’
He noted that since the case began in 2015, all adjournments had been ar the instances of the anti-graft agency and that “their absence in court today (Friday) is a clear indication that they are no longer interested in prosecuting this case.’’
He then urged the court to dismiss the case against his client for lack of merit in accordance with section 35 (1) of the Criminal Justice Administration 2015.
The Judge quickly informed that defense counsel of the security challenges in the state and that it was too early for him to have concluded that the anti-graft agency was not serious over the matter.
“I think you may be in a hurry to conclude that the prosecution is not serious with the matter and for asking this court to dismiss the case.
“`I think we should give them another chance considering the security situation in Jos,’’ the judged pointed out.
The case was then adjourned to November 19 for further hearing.
Davou, however, told Everyday.ng that their (investors’) fear arose from the arguments put up by Ardzard and that until the anti-graft agency changes its tactic toward the case, “we are afraid of losing our investments.’’