Justice Abdu Dogo of the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, Benue State, on March 4, 2022, dismissed an application filed by Benue Electoral Commission Chairman, Loko Tersoo Joseph and others, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to try them, and the power of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to prosecute them under the Penal Code law of Benue State.
The BESIEC officers are being prosecuted by the Makurdi Zonal Command of the EFCC on a 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, forgery and money laundering to the tune of N500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira only).
While delivering his ruling, Justice Dogo held that “EFCC can prosecute without a fiat and EFCC is empowered by the EFCC Act, 2004, to prevent, investigate and prosecute any financial crime. The application lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”
The defendants had filed a motion before the Court arguing that the prosecution lacked the power to prosecute them on the grounds that Benue State Electoral Commission, Benue State and any of the Local Government did not complain, and that the money that is subject of litigation belongs to Benue State Government and EFCC does not have the right to prosecute them under the Penal Code law of Benue State.
The EFCC had on Tuesday June 29, 2021, arraigned the Chairman, Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC), Loko Tersoo Joseph; the Secretary, Serki Mtomba Manaseh; the Treasurer, Akange Akula and 5 other members/Commissioners: Abe Aboyi Augustine, Donald Kertyo, Agber Aondona Emmanuel, Sunday Agbaji, and Ekoja Daniel.
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them and were admitted to bail in the sum of N10 million each with one surety in like sum.
The matter has been adjourned until May, 19, 2022 for trial.