Trial of HEDA’s Chairman, Suraju: Judge berates AG for lack of evidence
By Samuel Gbadebo
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has berated the Federal Ministry of Justice for lack of evidence in the trial of Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) on allegations of cyberstalking.
HEDA is the foremost Nigerian anti-corruption group that opened up a can of worms on the OPL245 scam involving billions of dollars of public funds stolen by public officials. Some of the main suspects are seeking vengeance in a fight back aimed at blackmailing the leading anti corruption group. The on-going trial has generated tremendous interest in the global community including but not limited to the many United Nations caucuses working on corruption across the world. Solidarity messages continue to pour in in support of HEDA and its Chairman from across the world up to the time of filing this report.
Justice Binta Nyako berated the prosecution for lack of evidence and diligence. The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of Nigeria filed complaints against the Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), Suraju Olanrewaju, on OPL245 scam, also referred to as Malabu scandal.
HEDA’s investigations in collaboration with global anti-corruption consortium discovered shady deals that indicated fraud and financial crimes linked to the Malabu oil deal which became a subject of international litigation. Several leaders of civil society organisations were in court to show solidarity with HEDA and their team. An undaunted Suraju said “We want to reiterate our resolve to stand against every enemy of the citizens especially those in public sector who have decided to misuse and abuse the people’s mandate to manage Public resources. We shall not give up in the fight against injustice, maladministration, mismanagement of public resources and other inhuman treatments
Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke and former Petroleum Minister Dan Etiebet are some of the key people accused of belligerence in the oil deal. the prosecuting team led by A.O Shuaib, has been berated by Justice Binta Nyako for lack of diligence and clear evidence against the defendant (Mr. Suraju Olarenwaju) of HEDA Resource Centre.
Addressing the court, Counsel to Suraju, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) told the court the prosecuting counsel failed to serve accused with any ‘Proof of Evidence’ and upon that there was no way the plea of the defendant could be taken without him (Suraju) knowing what the body of evidence were, and he (Shuaib) did not respond to HEDA’s preliminary objections neither did he respond to its application for bail.
Sources told Irohinoodua that that there was a little drama in court as the prosecution tried to claim that the proof of evidence was served. Hon Justice Nyako punctured the attempt because no such document existed also in her own file too. The prosecution then proceeded to say that they didn’t file a reply to the bail application because they (Prosecution team) is not opposing the bail application as they (Prosecution) understood that the matter is a bailable charge.
Reports said the Judge was very displeased with the prosecuting counsel telling him on the implications of their lack of diligence especially because the matter was originally slated to come up in November 2021. She lamented that the lack of diligence by the prosecution and the futile argument being proffered was giving her headache and threatening her health.
She therefore adjourned to 7th February 2022 and threatened that if the prosecution did not tidy up her case, she would simply strike out the matter.
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