Former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, has asked a Lagos High Court in Igbosere to stay proceedings in her trial for alleged theft of N3.3bn.
The charge was instituted against Okereke-Onyuike by the Lagos State Government.
However, Okereke-Onyuike wants the court, presided over by Justice Christopher Balogun, to stay proceedings pending her appeal against an earlier decision of the court to assume jurisdiction to entertain the charge.
Her lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, told the court on Thursday that the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, the law guiding criminal proceedings in the state, which prohibit the suspension of criminal trials, were abnormal and contradicted the superior provisions of the constitution.
Olanipekun, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, said, “Section 273 of the ACJL is unconstitutional. The constitutional right of appeal vested on the applicant has not been taken away by Section 273.
“It conflicts with Section 66 of the Constitution which vests the powers of the court on the judge. The Lagos State High Court is a creation of the Constitution and not the legislature.”
But counsel for the state, Mr. Lawal Pedro, urged the court to dismiss the application.
He said, “Once the jurisdiction is challenged, the only jurisdiction the court has is to enquire and determine whether it can entertain this application for stay of proceedings, but will, in line with Section 273 of the ACJL, refuse the application.”
Pedro said the constitution empower the state House of Assembly and the Chief Judge to make rules for regulating the High Court’s practice and procedure.
The state had preferred two separate charges against Okereke-Onyuike, her deputy, Alhaji Lance Elakama and six others, accusing them of stealing N3,301,000,000.
The others are Creative Financial Services Limited, Mining System Limited, OPDC Properties Limited, OAK Business and Finance Company Limited, Uzoma Henry Onyekuru (m) and Kingdom Securities and Finance Company Limited.
Balogun fixed ruling on the application for stay of proceedings till July 19.
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