Alleged N2.5bn fraud: Court tells counsel to produce NBC boss in court

JUSTICE Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, told Abdullahi Mustapha (SAN), to produce his client, the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu Modibbo in court, on the next adjourned date.

The Judge gave that directive due to the absence of Modibbo in court to answer charges levelled against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Addressing the court after counsel had announced appearances, Mustapha said Modibbo was not present in court to take plea based on health ground.

“My lord, let me apologise for the absence of the 1st defendant in court. He is on admission. He had a major surgery ten years ago and is ill.

“I have a medical report from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital to confirm that he is currently ill, and I shall be filing it before the court registry,” Mustapha told the court.

Consequently, “On account of health, I seek an adjournment pending when he (Modibbo) will be well enough to attend a trial,” Mustapha pleaded.

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The prosecution counsel, Henry Emore did not oppose the oral application for an adjournment, but however said that it should be on record that the defence has taken one adjournment out of five, as stipulated by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in criminal cases.

On his part, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), who announced appearance for the 2nd and 3rd defendants did not raise an objection to Mustapha’s application for an adjournment because according to him, “It is only the living that praises God, and only the living can face trial.”

Before granting an adjournment, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa said she would not bend back again to grant an adjournment exceeding two weeks based on the provision of section 396 of ACJA.

The judge also directed the prosecution counsel to verify the authenticity of the medical report filed by Modibbo’s counsel and file a report on it to the court.

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned to April 17 for the defendants to take a plea, and May 2, 3, 8 and 9 for the commencement of trial.

Modibbo (1st defendant), Sir Lucky Omoluwa, founder of Pinnacle Communications Ltd (3rd defendant); Dipo Onifade (2nd defendant) and Pinnacle Communications Ltd (4th defendant) are facing trial over an allegation of fraud in the digital switchover the project of the Federal Government.

At yesterday’s proceeding, the 2nd and 3rd defendants were in court, except Modibbo.

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