An Ikeja High Court on Monday dismissed an application by an oil marketer, Abdullahi Alao, seeking to quash the fuel subsidy fraud charge against him and four others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the application was dismissed by Justice Lateefat Okunnu for lacking in merit.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on 10 October, 2012, charged Abdullahi, son of a prominent businessman, Alhaji Abdullazeez Arisekola-Alao, to court.
He was charged alongside two other oil marketers, Olarenwaju Olalusi and Opeyemi Ajuyah, and their companies -Majope Investment Ltd. and Axenergy Ltd.
The defendants were alleged to have obtained N1.1 billion from the Federal Government for the importation of 15,000 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Okunnu, while ruling on the application to quash charges filed by Alao’s counsel, Mr Oluwaseun Awonuga, held that the charge before the court was competent.
The judge dismissed the defence submission that the fiat obtained by the EFCC from the Attorney-General of Lagos State had “expired”.
She held that the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation were empowered to prosecute criminal offences under state laws, even without a fiat from the state’s attorney-general.
Okunnu said: “Section 211 (1) of the Constitution allows for circumstances in which any other body other than the Attorney-General can institute criminal proceedings against a person.
“The EFCC Act, which is an Act of the National Assembly, also empowers the agency to prosecute criminal matters under a state law,” she said.
The judge noted that the EFCC Act and the Constitution were superior to any law passed by a state House of Assembly.
She also held that the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2011 gave powers to the EFCC to prosecute the defendants before a state high court.
“The EFCC is authorised to prosecute cases such as the present one in any court in Nigeria.
“I find that there is no merit in the application and it is hereby rejected,” Okunnu said.
NAN reports that the matter was adjourned till 30 October for continuation of trial.