Justice C.A. Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, dismissed the application filed by Nadabo Energy Boss, Abubakar Ali Peters, seeking him to disqualify or recuse himself from sitting on the alleged N1.4bn oil subsidy fraud trial “on the allegation of likelihood of bias.”
The EFCC is prosecuting Abubakar and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, on a 27-count charge for allegedly using forged documents to obtain the sum of N1,464,961,978.24 from the Federal Government as oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the quantity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, purportedly imported and supplied by the company.
He pleaded “not guilty” to all the counts.
While the fifth prosecution witness, PW5, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, was still being cross-examined in the course of the trial by the defence counsel, E.O. Isiramen, the defence had brought an application dated July 5, 2022, urging the trial Judge to “disqualify or recuse yourself on the grounds of existence of likelihood of bias”.
The prosecution, through its counsel, S.K. Atteh, had, also in September 2022, responded in a counter-affidavit.
Ruling on the application today, Justice Balogun held that the allegation of “likelihood of bias” raised by the defence was a “mere conjecture”.
The trial judge, while noting that he took the “pains to read the applications filed”, stressed that “mine is to dispense justice to all parties.”
The Judge held that “Let me say very unequivocally, since I started sitting as a High Court judge in 2010, I have never had any cause to visit anybody to give me any direction by any person or particularly any Honourable Chief Judge in respect of any case or in particular this matter.”
The trial judge further noted that “the perceived judicial bias is very unfounded”.
While striking out the application, Justice Balogun ruled that “This court shall continue to hear this matter.”
The case was adjourned till July 11, 2023 for continuation of trial.