By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked Justice Mohammed Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos to dismiss a motion filed by former Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, seeking to commit the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to prison for alleged contempt.
In a Motion on Notice filed through her lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), the former minister argued that the inclusion of her name on the looters’ list released by the information minister during the pendecy of an alleged fraud case against her is contemptuous.
However, responding to the arguments of Usman’s counsel on the motion, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to decline Usman request for the information minister to be summoned to explain why he should not be committed to prison over his action.
Oyedepo insisted that the applicant (Nenadi Isman) was never referred to as a looter by the information minister, saying what was published by some newspapers only bordered on allegations and cannot be said to be prejudicial to the applicant’s case in court.
He further argued that there was no advertorial from the Ministry of Information to substantiate the claims against the information minister.
He said, “The Minister of Information is not a party to the criminal proceedings against the applicant. There is no evidence to show that the alleged contemnor works with the various media houses that published the alleged offensive publication. Besides, there were no allegations against the media houses that published the alleged offensive publication.
“There was nothing that connects the ministry of information to the motion which was taken out to annoy the prosecution. The motion is lacking in substance, it is an abuse of court’s process and should be dismissed”.
Earlier, Nenadi’s lawyer, Chief Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) while urging the court to grant the motion alleged that the information minister had by his action pre-judged his client’s case before the court.
“The information minister’s action undermines the integrity of the court and is aimed at poisoning the mind of the public against the applicant.
“Assuming at the end of proceedings, the defendants were cleared of the alleged offence, the integrity of the court will be put to test owing to the information minister’s action.
“In the absence of any denial by the alleged contemnor, there was no need for the applicant to attach any advertorial from the ministry of information. What is required at this stage is minimal proof in the absence of any specific denial by the alleged contemnor”, the silk said.
Ruling on the motion has been reserved till November 16.