An Osun state-based lawyer, Mathew Ayelagbe Laogun and his son, Barrister Ayodele Adelaja Laogun, on Thursday, stormed the Federal High Court, Osogbo, with 17 lawyers. The two accused lawyers who were absent in court, are facing a case of Advance Fee Fraud being prosecuted by the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Zone X1.
When the case was called, Mr. Olufemi Ayandokun, announced his appearance with 16 other Counsels, ‘in protest’ for the defendants.
A counsel from the state Ministry of Justice, Mr. Hazzan Agbelekale, introduced himself, telling the court that the state is interested in taking over the case.
He pleaded to make oral application to take over the case pursuant to section 211(1b) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria. He told the court that the section of the constitution empowered the state to take over any instituted case and from anybody.
But, the Prosecutor, O/C Legal, Zone XI Police Headquarter, James Olajide Famuyini, ASP, who apparently surprised at the appearance of the state counsel, argued that the state can not take over the matter under the state attorney general.
Famuyini informed the court that the accused were served with the fact and the prove of evidence that they would be arraigned on May 22, and they were absent in court.
He reminded the court that bench warrant was issued against the accused, and yet, they refused to appear in court, but went ahead to file application for setting aside of the order of bench warrant.
Famuyini submitted that only counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice can take over the case pursuant to section 174 of the constitution, insisting that the case is a federal matter.
The Prosecutor said the move to take over the case has raised the suspicion that the state want to jeopardize the case.
He hinted the court that the accused were granted bail on self recognition by the police and has since then refused to report back, but rather went to file fundamental case against the police.
But, the state counsel stated that the submission of prosecution is ‘erroneous’. He said Advance Fee Fraud, under which the case was prepared, can be prosecuted by either the Federal or state high court.
He said there is a fiat (authority) given the state attorney general power to prosecute the case.
But, Justice M. A. Onyetenu, said the case should go on until the state counsel produce the authority. She directed the prosecutor to make sure that the accused are properly served, and adjourned the matter to June 28.