Former Enugu Chief Justice Presided Over Two Cases Of His Beneficiaries, Witness Tells Court
A principal witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in the case involving the erstwhile Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Azubuike Umezuluike on Wednesday 29th November,2017 told the court that the former Chief Judge was presiding over two cases involving Prince Arthur Eze and his company, Oranto Petroleum Ltd when he accepted a N10 million (Ten Million Naira) donation from him during the launch of his book titled “ABC of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria”.
In the case presided over by Justice A.O. Onovo of the Federal High Court, sitting in Enugu, Peter Eze made the disclosure during cross examination by the counsel to the defendant, Prof. Agu G. Agu who had asked him if the main thrust of his case against the defendant had been the donation of N10m which “ You felt might have affected your case before him”.
“My Lord, that is not my complaint. My complaint to the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) was that the accused as a judicial officer accepted a gift from a plaintiff whose case was before him”, Eze said.
He continued, “As at the time of public presentation of the book the defendant authored, Prince Arthur Eze had two cases and another he was a party before the former Chief Judge.”
The defence counsel further asked the witness if he was at anytime arraigned for forgery of a Power of Attorney of a certain land belonging to one R.O Nkwocha.
“My Lord based on a petition written by the defendant, I was arrested, cautioned and detained on allegations made by him that I forged some documents. When I was brought to the court and before the charge could be read, I was saved by the Attorney General who came in the company of the Director of Public Prosecution and the case was withdrawn.”
Eze said the case had since been settled.
Earlier in his testimony, the General Manager of SNAAP Press Nigeria Ltd, publishers of the book “ABC of Contemporary Land Law in Nigeria” authored by the defendant , Samuel Achuka while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Wahab Shittu (Who tendered the witness’s statement to EFCC) told the court that neither Arthur Eze nor his company, Oranto oil Nig paid any money to SNAAP Press.
“The terms of agreement between the author and the publisher were not followed as a committee whose members we did not know was set up and all the printed books sold out at the public presentation so we could not pay royalties which was agreed to be on N200 for soft copy and N400 for hard copy”. He stressed.
Umezuluike, a former Chief Judge was arraigned on July 14,2017 on a one-count charge of abuse of office to confer corrupt and unfair advantage contrary to Section 19 of the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Act (Laws of the Federation) 2000 .
The case was adjourned to Thursday November 30,2017 for continuation of trial.
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