Alleged N2.5bn fraud: Judge orders counsel to produce NBC boss, Modibbo

By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has advised a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Abdullahi Mustapha, to produce the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Ishaq Kawu Modibbo, on the next adjourned date.
This is following Modibbo’s absence in court to answer charges levelled against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission(ICPC) 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 allegation of fraud in the digital switch over project of the Federal Government.
At Tuesday’s sitting, the 2nd and 3rd defendants were in court, except Modibbo. At the resumption of trial yesterday, the defence counsel, Mustapha, in an oral application, told the court that Modibbo’s absence in court to take plea was informed by his ill health.
He therefore, prayed the court to grant them adjournment to enable the defendant recover.
“My lord, let me apologize for the absence of the 1st defendant in court. He is on admission.
“He had a major surgery 10 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.
“On account of health, I seek for an adjournment pending when he (Modibbo) will be well enough to attend trial” Mustapha pleaded.
Responding, the prosecuting counsel, Henry Emore, did not oppose the oral application for an adjournment.
The prosecution, however, posited that it should be on record that they have taken one adjournment out of 5, as stipulated by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in criminal cases.
On his part, Alex Izinyon, SAN, who announced appearance for the 2nd and 3rd defendants did not raise 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”.
However, Izinyon pointed out that the statement of Emore on adjournment was not applicable to the other defendants, which the court affirmed.
Before granting an adjournment, In his ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa said she would not bend backwards again to grant an adjournment exceeding two weeks based on the provision of section 396 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
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 plea, and May 2, 3, 8 and 9 for commencement of trial.

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