Justice B. O. Quadri of the Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, River State, on Wednesday, 11th November, 2015, overruled a preliminary objection filed by G.I. Abibo, SAN, in a case involving a former presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Chief Ambrose Ambrose Owuru, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for a phony land deal to the tune of N66 million.
Owuru was on August 2, 2013 arraigned before the late Justice Suleiman Aliyu of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, River State, on a five-count charge bordering on uttering, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N66 million.
The complainant had alleged that he paid the sum of N60 million through a Skye Bank account, to the accused person for a property located on Nzimiro Street, Amadi Flat ,Port Harcourt, River State sometime in March ,2011.
He also alleged that he could not take possession of the property, as the accused person had allegedly sold it to one Chief Austin Omire .
He further stated that the accused person allegedly collected additional N6 million from him to ‘‘settle’’ Omire.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ambrose Owuru, on or about the 7th day of March 2011 at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of Sixty Million Naira(N60,000,000) from Ikechukwu Eze on the pretence that you have sold to him four (4) plots of land situated at Plot 44A, Amadi Layout- Port Harcourt ,a pretext which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act”.
Another count reads; “That you, Ambrose Owuru, on or about the 7th day of March 2011 at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did alter a forged “Certificate of Occupancy” dated 20th of March 1990 purportedly issued by the Rivers State Lands and Survey covering Plot 44A Amadi Layout, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(2) ( c ) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Law of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007, and punishable under section 1(2) of the same Act.”
The accused person had pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him.
At the last sitting, the defend counsel had raised a preliminary objection before the late Justice Aliyu to quash the charges preferred against the accused person on the grounds that he already had a civil matter against him (the complainant) in another court.
However, while delivering his ruling today, Justice Quadri overruled the preliminary objection filed by the defence counsel, on the grounds that the criminal trial would not obstruct proceedings in the said civil matter.
Justice Quadri adjourned the matter to February 1, 2016 for commencement of trial.