A Rivers State Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Port Harcourt has reserved ruling for February 7, 2022, on whether it has powers to try the immediate past Managing Director of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, Tony Attah, and the company’s Head of Legal, Akachukwu Nwokedi, along with the firm as a corporate entity.
Chief Magistrate Blessing Vic-Jumbo reached the decision after listening to counsel for both parties in the case of false pretences, fraudulent tricks, and misrepresentation preferred against the accused by a contractor, Macobarb International, and its Managing Director, Shedrack Ogboru.
The defendants were represented by their counsel, Bayo Adaralegbe, Valentine Igbonekwu and Tochukwu Nwankwo, while the complainants were represented by Morrison Uzoma and C. A. Jombo.
During the sitting, the defence counsel said the court lacked jurisdiction because the case did not meet the law on private prosecution, having not been first investigated by the police.
But the complainants’ counsel said by the Appeal Court’s rulings, preliminary objections should not prevent trials to commence in criminal matters, but that the ruling on objections could only come at the end of trial.
The team of lawyers from Babalakin Chambers fighting to stop the NLNG officials and the company from being arraigned adopted their preliminary objection, which they had filed ahead.
The complainant countered the objection in open court, saying the chief magistrate lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint and to issue the summons.