Two oil marketers and their company on Monday challenged the jurisdiction of a Lagos High Court in Ikeja to entertain the N1.8 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The marketers, Mahmud Tukur and Alex Ochonogor, alongside their company, Eterna Plc, filed their application before the court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo.
Mahmud is the son of Bamanga Tukur, the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The application dated 3 May 2013, was filed by their counsel, Wole Olanipekun.
The defendants were charged to court alongside Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Abdullazeez Arisekola-Alao.
During Monday’s proceedings, Mr Olanipekun informed the court that the application had been served on the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs.
He said the application was seeking for an order quashing or striking out the charge for want of jurisdiction.
He said: “This charge is a matter relating to the revenue of the Federation on which only the Federal High Court has jurisdiction.
“The substratum of the charge is within the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
“The criminal charge was not instituted in accordance with procedural due process.”
Mr Olanipekun said his clients filed the application late because they were still discussing with the Federal Government pertaining to the charge.
“As at now, we are still discussing. I say this from the Bar even if my learned friend, Jacobs, claims not to be aware,” he added.
Mr Jacobs told the court that he was not aware of the said discussion between his client (Federal Government) and the defendants.
He urged the court to allow the parties take the applications orally but the judge declined his request.
Justice Onigbanjo therefore adjourned the matter till 28 May for argument of the applications.
He also directed all the parties to file and attach their written addresses to the processes before the next adjournment date.