Former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion yesterday received a breather from his legal troubles as the Federal High Court sitting in Benin discharged him in the 66-count charge of money laundering and corruption brought against him and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It was, however, a different stroke for the other accused persons as the oral application for the bail of Michael Igbinedion and Patrick Eboigbodin was turned down by the judge, Adamu Hobon, who then proceeded to commit the two men to prison custody till June 8 and 13, when their written bail application would be taken.
Patrick Eboigbodin and Michael Igbinedion, - younger brother of the former governor - are 2nd and 3rd accused respondents in the 66-count charge brought against Mr. Igbinedion and six others by the EFCC
In the case of the former governor, Mr Hobon ruled that it would amount to double jeopardy and abuse of court process to try the former governor again as he had in 2008 entered into a plea bargain with the EFCC.
The judge held that counsel to the accused persons was able to show evidence that the former governor was tried and convicted of similar offence by the Court of Appeal, Enugu division in 2008 when he entered into the plea bargain.
He also ruled that the preliminary application by the accused persons to strike out the 66-count charge was proper in case of the former governor, but failed in the case of the 2nd to the 7th accused respondents whom the court held did not prove that they had been tried and convicted before.
“However regrettably, none of the 2nd to 7th accused respondents have shown or adduced evidence to show they were earlier tried and convicted before.”
No double jeopardy
“The doctrine of double jeopardy and abuse of court process is not available to them. In fact, some of them escaped from jurisdiction while the trial was on. Their application has failed and is hereby dismissed for lack of merit, frivolities and wanting in evidence,” Mr Hobon ruled.
The 4th to 7th respondents, which include GAVA Corporation Limited, ROMRIG Nigeria Limited, PML Securities Company Limited and PML Nigeria Limited purportedly owned by the 1st to 3rd respondents were represented in court by the accused counsel.
Before making the remand order, charges against the 2nd to 7th accused respondents were read to them, following which they pleaded not guilty.
Hearing in the substantive case was adjourned to the 13th and 14th of July, 2011.