ABUJA—FORMER Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, yesterday, adduced reasons why trial Justice Suleiman Belgore of an Abuja High Court sitting at Apo, should not allow counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, to go ahead and prosecute either himself or his former deputy, Usman Nafada Bayero, over the alleged uncanny roles they played in a N40 billion loan scam.
Bankole who is answering to a 17-count criminal charge preferred against him and his erstwhile deputy, Nafada, by the EFCC, prayed the trial judge, yesterday, to disqualify the prosecuting counsel, Keyamo, from the matter forthwith, saying it was the only way the court could protect them from unnecessary persecution in the hands of the anti-graft body.
In a preliminary objection entered in court by his lead counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, Bankole, alleged that the EFCC lawyer ab_initio vowed to bring him down whilst he still presided over the proceedings of the House of Representatives, adding that the disaffection the prosecuting counsel had for him culminated to a petition that sought his probe in 2008.
The told the court that Keyamo forwarded a strong worded petition to the sixth session of the House of Representatives, accusing him of siphoning about N2.3billion through a transaction that involved the purchase of Peugeot 407 Cars for members of the House.
Consequently, he maintained that the prosecuting counsel, having publicly exhibited his malice and bias against him in the past, ought not to be allowed by the trial court to prosecute the instant case against them.
In his arguments, the former speaker stated: “Mr. Keyamo as a private legal practitioner had envisaged the applicant in battles of allegation of corruption as the Speaker of the House of Reps which failed and was dismissed by the House Ethics Committee.
“That the prosecution of this case by Keyamo is a continuation of persecution, to destroy the applicant, an attack he had begun since October 2008. The prosecution of the allegation in this court by Keyamo can neither be objective nor inspire confidence or impartiality and independence as prosecutor.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC yesterday, described the contention of the accused persons as arrant balderdash, even as it urged the trial court to go ahead and hear the substantive criminal charge filed against them on its merit.
Responding to the preliminary objection, the prosecuting counsel Keyamo, through a 22-paragraph counter affidavit he filed in court yesterday, argued that “the fact that a prosecutor had at one time or the other in life, crossed the path of an accused person in other spheres of human endeavour and questioned his integrity in those other endeavours, he is not precluded forever from prosecuting him in respect of other issues”.