Controversy Trails Bawa Visit To Lagos Chief Judge after Testifying In Oil Marketer’s Trial

The recent visit of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, shortly after testifying in the ongoing trial of the Managing Director of Nadabo Energy Limited, Abubakar Ali Peters over N1.7 billion fuel subsidy fraud has continued to generate concern among litigants and lawyers.

According to some observers, the visit had called to question the impartiality of the third arm of government in the dispensation of justice.

The prosecution team of the EFCC led by Saidu Atteh had called five witnesses since the commencement of the trial.

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Bawa is the fifth prosecution witness and the leader of the investigating team that investigated the alleged fraud years before he was appointed the Chairman of the Commission, is the witness in the box.

A source in the Lagos State High Court, who did not want his name mentioned because he is not authorised to speak on the issue, claimed that the chairman of the anti-graft agency went straight to Justice Alogba’s office with a registrar from the chamber of Justice Christopher Balogun, the trial judge in the matter.

The source also alleged that shortly after the judge rose after the proceedings, he also went to the office of the Chief Judge.

The source explained that such a visit, which is meant to forge synergy in the fight against corruption between the commission and the judiciary, is not new but in this instant case, Bawa left the witness box and headed straight to the office of the Chief Judge is very unusual.

He said a situation where a trial judge in the same matter, also visit the Chief Judge a few minutes after the proceedings of the day raised serious questions that need answers.

“The fact that the Chairman of the EFCC visited the office of the Chief judge of Lagos state is not a strange thing because successive heads of the nation’s anti-graft agency usually visit the head of the judiciary for synergy and cooperation.

“But what is strange in this visit was the fact that he came directly after testifying in a case where he has been in the witness box for over five years, and a few minutes later the presiding judge in the matter also went to meet the Chief Judge of the state.

When you consider that none of the parties address the press or issue a press statement after their meeting you will understand the fears been expressed by observers,” the source stated.

The EFCC had charged Ali Peters, his company Nadabo Energy before Justice Balogun in a 27- count charge over alleged N1.4 billion subsidy fraud.

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against him.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 8 and punishable under sections 1 (2) & (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

The Chairman of the anti-graft commission who is testifying as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5) had begun his examination-in-chief on 3rd June 2015, long before his appointment.

14th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph