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Published On: Tue, Mar 17th, 2020

Ex-Customs CG, Dikko’s absence stalls arraignment

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By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The Federal High court Abuja, yesterday, adjourned the arraignment of the ex-Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Abdullahi Inde-Dikko to May 3rd 2020.
Dikko has reportedly evaded previous sittings on the charge of fraud brought against him and two others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
According to the prosecution, the defendant had allegedly travelled out of the country for medical attention.
At the resumed hearing, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu frowned at the prosecution, Ebenezer Shogunle’s failure to arrest the first defendant via the bench warrant order on the ex-Customs which was endorsed by her.
Ojukwu said, “Usually, the next thing they do before I leave at 4 or 5:00pm, they bring those warrant for my endorsement. I have endorsed the warrant but you have never come for it. Is that not the position? So, you know you are not serious.”
The warrant was necessitated by Dikko’s continued failure to attend court to defend the charge that the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) had brought against him.
But according to Shogunle, he was asked to verify the whereabouts of Dikko on the day the matters was adjourned,
He said “we confirmed that the first defendant left Nigeria February 14, three days before the sitting of the court. His destination was Dubai. Currently, the first defendant is reportedly in Lodnon.”
He therefore pleaded with the court to extend the duration of the bench warrant and sought a further date for the arraignment.
Justice Ojukwu told him that the directive was for him to arrest the first defendant and arraign him.
She said the prosecutor seemed to be unserious with the matter and if that was the case, he should allow her to discharge the accused.
“I am not adjourning this matter for the sake of it. If you are not interested in it, let me discharge it. Whenever you are ready to prosecute the first defendant we will re-arraign him.”
Responding, the counsel to Dikko, Solomon Akuma, told the court that the prosecutor had failed to investigate thoroughly to know whether his client was in the hospital.
The councel also objected to the issuance of any bench warrant on the first defendant, wondering why the prosecutor was insisting on an extension for him to serve the bench warrant despite the previous time he was given to so to no avail.

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