A new judge, Professor Chuka Obiozor, has been assigned to oversee the trial of Paul Usoro, SAN, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association ( NBA ), Paul Usoro, over N1.4 billion fraud allegation at the Federal High Court Lagos.
Obiozor is taking over from Justice Muslim Hassan. The transfer of the case to a new judge by the Chief Judge, followed an application to that effect.
However, the transfer was believed to have stalled proceedings on the case Tuesday as the case was not listed on the cause lists of both Justices Hassan and Obiozor.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Usoro on a 10-count charge bordering on fraud. His fellow defendants in the case are Governor Emmanuel Udom, the incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom, who is described in the charge as being “currently constitutionally immune from prosecution”; Nsikan Nkan, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance; Mfon Udomah, Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State; Uwemedimo Nwoko, the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General and Margaret Ukpe. The other defendants were said to be at large.
The commission alleged that Usoro conspired with others, to commit the offence within the jurisdiction of the court. He was alleged to have conspired to convert the sum of N1.4 billion, property of Akwa Ibom State Government, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity.
The prosecution said that the unlawful activity include criminal breach of trust which contravenes the provisions of section 15 (2), 15(3), and 18 (A) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
Usoro was charged on Dec. 18, 2018 before Justice Hassan, and his plea was taken.
Hassan had subsequently admitted him to bail in the sum of N250 million with one surety in like sum.
The court had then adjourned the case until Feb. 5, March 5, and March 6, for continuation of trial.