The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday requested Justice Sylvanus Oriji of FCT  High Court Apo, to recuse himself from hearing in the enforcement of fundamental rights case filed by Monday Ubani, a former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Ubani had approached the court for the enforcement of his rights following his detention by the anti-corruption commission for standing surety to Dr Ngozi Olejeme, a former chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Olejeme is alleged to have jumped bail and is believed to have fled the country.

At the resumed hearing of the case, counsel for Ubani, Benson Igbanoi, who held brief for Dr Mike Ozekhome, SAN, informed the court that though the matter was slated for hearing the applicant’s lawyers were served at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday in court with a motion on notice by EFCC.

He said the motion seeks the judge to recuse himself from hearing the suit on the ground of likely bias.

He added that another motion on notice of preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction if the court was also served on them.

Igbanoi, therefore, told the court that in view of the nature of the application and the time they were served, the applicant’s legal team needed to respond to the processes.

On his part, counsel for EFCC, G K Latona, apologised to the court for the delay in response to the processes and did not object to the application for adjournment made by Igbano.

Reacting to the development, Justice Oriji stated that he lacked the power to remove the case file and return same to the Chief Judge of the FCT, who he assigned the case to him.

The judge stated that in view of the motion seeking him to recuse himself from the case dated May 15, it was proper for EFCC to bring the request before the CJ to withdraw the case from him.

He, therefore adjourned the matter till September 18 for mention.

Justice Oriji had on March 26 directed EFCC to either charge Ubani and Hon Christopher Enai to court within 48 hours or release them upon fulfilling certain conditions.
ATO/SH

edited by Sadiya Hamza