Alleged Fraud: Lai Mohammed, Witness’ Absence Stall NBC Boss Kawu, Others’ Trial

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Alleged Fraud: Lai Mohammed, Witness’ Absence Stall NBC Boss Kawu, Others’ Trial

Alleged Fraud: Lai Mohammed, Witness’ Absence Stall NBC Boss Kawu, Others’ Trial
October 21
14:43 2019

The inability of the prosecution to produce its two remaining witnesses stalled proceedings on Monday in the trial of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Modibo Kawu and three others before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Limited, its Chairman Lucky Omoluwa and the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, Dipo Onifade are being tried over to the alleged fraud discovered in the handling the of N2.5 billion, which formed part of the seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project of the Federal Government.

At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, lead prosecuting lawyer, Ephraim Otti told the court that the two witnesses he had planned for the day were not available.

Otti, who is a lawyer from the prosecuting agency – the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) – said one of the intended witnesses travelled to Dubai, while the other one said he could not make it.

When asked by Justice Folasade Giwa-Ogunbanjo who the intended witnesses were, Otti said the one that travelled to Dubai “is the subpoenaed bureau de change operator, while the other one, who said he could not make it to court today is the Honourable Minister of Information.”

Otti then prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him produce the witnesses on the next adjourned date, a request lawyers to the defendants, including Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), frowned at and accused the prosecution of deliberately delay proceedings.

Mustapha noted that, by the court’s schedule on the case, the prosecution was still entitled to one additional adjournment, but that it should be told that the court will close its case should it fail to produce its witnesses on the next date.

Responding, Otti said: “We are not deliberately delaying. It is because of the challenges at hand. The witnesses are not our staff and that is why we are unable to compel them to attend court today.”
Otti, who said the witnesses were his last two, promised to do all within his powers to ensure the planned witnesses atend court on the next date.

Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo warned the prosecution against further delaying proceedings and be serious in his handling of the case.

She said: “You must avert your mind to the prosecution of Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

“If you are having challenges in bringing witnesses,you know what to do. If you are serious in bringing the witnesses, you know the options available to you.

“You have to bring your witnesses. It is not in your interest to continue in this manner.

” A word is enough for the wise. If you are sincere in prosecuting this matter, you should come with your witnesses on the next adjourned date.”

The judge then adjourned until December 3, 2019 for continuation of trial.

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