A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos presided over by Justice Mo-hammed Idris on Wednesday made a declaration that it has jurisdiction to try an official of the Independent Na-tional Electoral Commission (INEC), Christian Nwosu, whom the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), accused of collecting a sum to the tune of N30 million from the immediate past Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, so as to compromise the 2015 General Election.
It would be recalled that Nwosu had agreed to receiving the said sum through a plea bargain arrangement he had with the Commission.
But developments took a new dimension sequel to Justice Idris’ rejection of the plea bargain arrangement.
This prompted the EFCC to re-arraign Nwosu together with another official of INEC, Tijani Bashir, on an amended charge. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
After the re-arraignment of the duo, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the judge to consid-er transferring the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge.
Oyedepo said: “It is trite that a judge who has heard and rejected a plea bargain agreement of a defendant can no longer preside over the matter in the event that the defendant decide to change his plea.
“Though the commission has full confidence in the ability of the judge to handle the case, it will be in the interest of justice to allow another judge take over the matter in line with the provisions of Section 270(15) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).”
But in his application, Nwosu through his counsel, Victor Opara prayed Jus-tice Idris to throw out the request made by the Commission and continue to handle the matter.