Former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets, Hon. Herman Hembe and his deputy, Ifeanyi Azubuogu, do have a case to answer in court, an Abuja High Court ruled on Wednesday.
The duo are facing criminal charges brought against them by the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission.
Hembe and Azubuogu, the Punch reported, will answer to two counts of misappropriation of public funds for personal use, following accusations leveled against them by the now suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh.
During the committee’s probe of the capital market crash, Oteh had accused the Hembe of lacking credibility and revealed that the lawmaker, who received funds from the SEC in order to attend an economic summit in the Dominican Republic, had failed to attend the summit or account for the money he received.
The pair were also accused of demanding bribes from the SEC ahead of the capital market probe.
Reports say the EFCC got the green light to arraign Hembe and Azubuogu, but are yet to do so in court as the presiding judge, Justice Abubakar Umar, decided first to determine the lawmakers’ objections.
Hembe challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge in his objections, while Azubuogu argued that the EFCC did not have the right to level criminal charges against him.
However, Umar ruled on Wednesday that the EFCC does have sufficient evidence against both parties and dismissed their objections.
“All the court needs to consider at the moment is that from the proof of evidence, was money collected not used for the purpose it was meant for?
“My answer is yes, the accused persons collected the said amount. In fact, they did not deny collecting it,” Umar said.
He further ordered the EFCC to arraign Hembe and Azubuogu “unfailingly” by 18 July.