The trial of Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, a former Head of Service of the federation has been stopped.
The order was given by Justice Taiwo Oladipupo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Recall that Oyo-Ita and others are undergoing trial for allegedly engaging in fraud to the tune of N570m.
The judge, in a ruling, described the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s act in obtaining an ex-parte order for the freezing of bank accounts of the fourth, fifth and sixth defendants in the matter before another court as “an abuse of court process.”
Justice Taiwo, who described the EFCC’s conduct as “forum shopping” aimed at getting a favourable court judgment, said the anti-graft agency’s conduct was reprehensible and condemnable.
According to the judge, it was a contemptuous move and an outright forum shopping that must not be allowed in the interest of justice.
Justice Taiwo then ordered a stay of proceedings in the trial until the EFCC and its lawyer ‘do the needful’ by withdrawing the application before the other court.
Justice Taiwo did not slate any date for court to reconvene sitting on the matter.
The EFCC had filed an ex-parte motion with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1202/2020 before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo for the freezing of the bank accounts of fourth, fifth and sixth defendants in the alleged N570 million money laundering charge preferred against the ex-HoS and others, even when the matter is ongoing before Justice Taiwo.
Oyo-Ita is the first defendant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/60/2020 before Taiwo. Garba Umar and his two companies; Slopes International Ltd and Gooddeal Investment Ltd are the fourth, fifth and sixth defendants respectively.
Others in the case include Frontline Ace Global Services Ltd and Asanaya Projects as second and third, while Ubong Okon Effiok and his two companies; U & U Global Services Ltd and Prince Mega Logistics Ltd are seventh, eighth and ninth defendants respectively.
The defence lawyers had urged the court to discontinue the trial until the EFCC’s counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, withdraws the application before Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, describing the act as an abuse of court process.