By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday failed to produce the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in court, to testify as prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu Modibbo, Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and two others.
The trial Judge, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo- Giwa had on the last adjourned date, threatened to close the case of ICPC against the defendants if it fails to produce Mohammed and a subpoenaed bureau de change operator in court as witness on December 3.
Despite failure of the ICPC to produce the Information Minister to testify in court, a statement he made to the agency, tendered in court, indicated that he gave the approval for the release of N2.5 billion to the National Broadcasting Corporation as seed grant for the Digital Switch Over project of the Federal Government.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, the prosecution counsel, Henry Emoreh informed the court that though the case was for continuation of trial, however, he said, “we intend to close the case of the prosecution and we are not calling any more witnesses”.
Reacting to the sudden decision of the prosecution to close its case, Akeem Mustapha SAN, counsel to the 1st defendant (Kawu Modibbo) said he would not be calling any witness.
Mustapha said pursuant to section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, he would be asking for the maximum 14 days to file the 1st defendant’s no-case-submission.
Similarly, Alex Iziyon SAN, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendants, said he would not be calling any witness, and therefore requested for the maximum 14 days period allowed by ACJA to file a no-case-submission.
On his part, counsel representing the 4th defendant, Amah Etuwewe, applied for the maximum 14 days to file a no-case-submission.
Reacting, the prosecution counsel told the court that he needed 21 days to reply to all the proposed applications for no-case-submissions of the defendants.
Similarly, the defendants informed the court that they would need 7 days to reply on points of law.
In a short ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo- Giwa noted that it would take forty-two days for counsel to file and exchange processes in respect of the application for no-case-submissions.
Consequently, the court adjourned the matter to January 30, 2020 for adoption.
Meanwhile, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa has granted leave to Sir Lucky Omoluwa (3rd) and Dipo Onifade (2nd) defendants leave to travel abroad for an international conference.
The court therefore ordered the registrar of the Federal High Court to release the international passports of the defendants to enable them embark on the abroad trip.
The court directed them to travel between December 16-18, and January 14-16, 2020.
As part of the conditions, the court directed that one of the sureties of the defendants must deposed to an affidavit that they will return to face their trial, or be made to stand trial should the defendants abscond.
However, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa said that the defendants’ passports must be returned back to the court on January 24, 2020.