A reported visit of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to the office of the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba, shortly after his cross-examination in the N1.7billion trial of the Managing Director of Nadabo Energy Limited, Abubakar Ali Peters on 31st March 2022, is said to be generating concern among litigants, lawyers as to the impartiality of the third arm of government in the dispensation of justice.
A source in the Lagos State High Court, who did not want his name in print because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said the anti-graft agency Chairman went straight to Justice Alogba’s office with a registrar from the chamber of Justice Christopher Balogun, the presiding judge in the alleged fraud trial, in tow.
The prosecution team of the EFCC led by Saidu Atteh had called five witnesses since the commencement of the trial, and Bawa, who 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.
The source said shortly after the judge rose after the cross-examination of Bawa by the defence counsel, Osagie Ishrameh, Justice Balogun also went to the office of the Chief Judge.
He noted that the visit of the Chairman of the anti-graft agency to the state head of the judiciary for synergy in the fight against corruption is not new but what is defies sound reasoning in this particular instance is that he just stepped out of the witness box and headed straight to the office of the Chief Judge.
He said thereafter the presiding judge in the same matter, a few minutes after the proceeding of the day, also went to the same office.
“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,” the source said.
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.
Bawa, who is the star witness, began his cross-examination on 20th December 2021.