By: Valentine Adese (JP) and Hauwa Kabir Lawal,
There was a mellow drama, at the Plateau State High Court in Jos, when the case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against, Sen. Jonah David Jang and a cashier in the office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Mr. Yakubu Pam, came up on 23rd of December, 2019, over the Motion of No Case Submission, filed by the Defendants.
Owing to the timing of the reply from the Prosecution on the No Case Submission filed by the Defendants and the need to conclude the trial before the retirement of the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Daniel Longji, whose last sitting date is the 31st of December, 2019, tempers ruled the proceeding.
Although the Prosecution led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) withdrew their motion for extension of time to enable them file reply to the Motion on No Case Submission, his reference to cases in which he convicted some other past governors like Chief Joshua Dariye and Jolley Nyam, caused more flaring of tempers.
Adding that, “Who told you that I am afraid? Ask chief Ozekhome (SAN), he has been in some of the matters and I never lost!”.
“You cannot not Jail, Sen. Jang, as you have not been able to make any case against him. You may have succeeded in others, but on this you have failed. Edward G. Pwajok (SAN), quickly and openly vented.
The Court however, after Counsels have adopted their addresses and after listening to their adumbrations in the matter, has adjourned the matter to the 31st of December, 2019, to ruling on the No Case Submission.
Earlier, while arguing his position, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), apologized to the court for what happened in the last adjourned date and on behalf of his colleague for the words he used in court on the 17th of December, 2019.
ROTIMI JACOBS (SAN) IN PART SAID:
“Apologies my lord for what happened in the last adjourned date that is on the 17th of December, 2019, that the prosecutions address was not ready. I remember that I called the court to find out whether the Defendants have filed anything and that was when I got to know that they have filed.
“When I filed the amended charge, the Defence said they want to study it. They served their Motion on me and like the Appeals. I never anticipated that they would serve the EFCC and not me. We never took the court for granted!
I also apologies to the court for the words my colleague used, but Chief Ozekhome (SAN), was not also suppose to use such language even if the junior had done so.
Chief Ozekhome (SAN), had spoken of a dooms day. What is that supposed to mean? I am not expected to win all my cases, so, what is the dooms day to me?
“On the process, it is only on Saturday that I sat to look at the written address. My lord would recall that the court had done trial within trial, hence, I know it was going to be a long period for the court to conclude this case.
“I am not complaining, but why are they in a hurry now for the court to rule?
“Today’s proceeding is very crucial to me! The issue is, whether the court can conclude the matter this way? I have a Motion/Application for extension of time my lord and owing to the hurriness, there are serious and noticeable errors, which need to be corrected”.
However, while responding on these lines of argument made by Rotimi SAN, E. D. Pwajok (SAN), leading, Benson Igbanoi Esq, Olivia Dazyem Esq and other four lawyers, in part said:-
“I have gone through the record, though I was not here from the beginning. I can orally reply and defend this matter. I would therefore use this opportunity to commend my lord for the patience.
“There has been a huge impression out there from different quarters that, the prosecution wants to frustrate my lord and transfer the matter. Others also have stated their impression in several ways.
“The Address Rotimi Jacob SAN (Prosecution) is talking about is 85 pages and three times against ours.
“My lord, this case would be reported in Law Reports, and would be document for Student, especially Law Students to make reference to hence, we are putting several efforts.
“Our client’s liberty is at stake here!
“We have conferred with Chief Ozekhome (SAN). Even though the application lacks merit, we are willing to bend backwards!
“They said the EFCC was served on the 4th of December, 2019 and now they are saying that the EFCC was served on the 16th. We have also observed several defects and they have also made several conclusions by saying that, the court has no time to deliver justice on the matter.
“We are on No Case Submission and in one sentence, this matter can be concluded.
“I therefore call on all of us to cooperate to bring to conclusion, this matter.
“Even if we allow this matter as it is now, the court would have read the processes and the application before our reply.
“The case is now over one year and half and one of the Defendants, Sen. Jonah David Jang, is over 70 years. It is better for them to know their fate and rest well with it.
“I would however be shocked if the prosecution met us point for point!”
On his part, while aligning with the submissions of Pwajok SAN, the Counsel to the 2nd Defendant, S. Oyawole Esq, leading S. A. Oguntuyi Esq submitted in part as follows:-
“Having gone this far, it would not serve anybody’s interest for the matter to start all over. As it would be a great waste of judicial time.
“I however, align myself with Pwajok SAN, for the 1st Defendant. This matter should not come to NOT!
“We are not mind readers, but the court must foreclose this case because, we already anticipate what they want to do.
While advising the parties in the matter, Hon. Justice Longji in part said:
“In fairness, to all of us, I cannot say anybody has deliberately frustrated this case on all sides. There were reasons for adjournments, especially, when the 1st Defendants was sick. It therefore cannot be reported that there was anybody frustrating the speed of hearing this matter.
“But, I had a vision that I may not finish hearing this case, but I cannot come to court to say God told me this in a vision.
“The Defendants have filed a No Case Submission, saying the prosecution has not made a case hence, they want justice.
“On your part, you have the opinion that you have made a case. If you are not ready, they are!
“The eagerness now is that, you don’t have a case, so, let the court set the Defendants free that is their thinking.
“It is your case and they have made a No Case Submission. My last day was 20th December, 2019, but owing to the numerous judgments and rulings that I must deliver, I took a fiat from the Chief Judge (CJ) and I have delivered most. I have up to the 31st of December, 2019. If I adjourn again, it means I am not going to deliver the ruling.
“It is your case and a No Case Submission has been made. You must file answers!
“Counsels already have addresses filed. Let them guide me! I don’t really waste time recounting counsel’s address, but the facts placed before the court is my interest. This is a very serious matter!
“What I would read is the proceedings and what has been placed before the court. I am not to evaluate in a No Case Submission.
“If it is agreed, you should just adopt, without adumbration and believe in God. Else, if I rise, it would be no more!”