Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom on Wednesday adjourned to April 26, 2017 for hearing on an application brought before the court by a serving member of the House of Representatives, Nse Bassey Ekpenyong challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
The Rep is also challenging the competence of the charge of certificate forgery and uttering of documents brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
At the resumed hearing today, defence counsel, Emmanuel Isangidoho, submitted that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the charge.
However, the prosecution counsel, Ahmedu Arogha, argued that contrary to the submission of the defence counsel, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try the offence, the court should proceed with the trial of the defendant which is the business of the day as the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court was only just served on him in court and so un- ripe for hearing. He urged the court to commence trial as his witnesses were in court.
Though the judge turned down the prayers of the defence counsel and ordered that trial commenced, the defense counsel again raised another issue stating that he needed more time for the trial, alleging that some documents were not attached to the proof of evidence.
In response, the prosecution informed the court that the only document that was not attached was the Ordinary National Diploma in Public Administration which he (defendant) has the photocopy.
After listening to the argument of both counsels, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu adjourned the matter to April 26, 2017 for trial and hearing of the application.
Mr Ekpenyong, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Oron Federal Constituency of Akwa-Ibom State in the National Assembly, is facing a nine-count charge bordering on Forgery, Uttering of documents.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was arraigned on March 30, 2017.
Mr Ekpenyoung is alleged to have forged an Abia State Polytechnic Ordinary National Diploma Certificate and uttered a December 1999 West African Examination School Certificate, WASSCE, and thereby committed perjury before an Electoral Tribunal where he claimed that the certificates are genuine.