N10bn Pension Scam:Judge flays defence counsel over frivolous adjournment



Justice Aloma Mariam MukhtarJustice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja today warned counsel to desist from seeking frivolous adjournment on criminal matters, stating that criminal trial are serious matters and not to be treated lightly. Justice Kolawole said any counsel who is sick should provide a medical certificate as proof because the Chief Justice of Nigeria has ordered that cases of terrorism and corruption be dealt with expeditiously.
He issued the warning when Phina Chidi, Franklin Okey Nwankwo and nine other persons accused of complicity in the N10 billion pension scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were presented for re-arraignment. But the accused persons could not take their plea as the second accused said he would not take any plea in the absence of his counsel who sent a letter to inform the court that he was ill.
The prosecution counsel, Godwin Obla, SAN didn’t oppose the refusal. He said he was aware that the right of legal representation is a constitutional right.
Counsel to the 1st accused, Chris Uche, SAN did not oppose the application for an adjournment but prayed the court to allow the accused persons to continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them by Justice Adamu Bello.

The case was adjourned to March 26, 2014, while the accused persons are to continue enjoying the bail terms already granted them by court.
In a related development, EFCC re-arraigned Abdullahi Tahir before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja oN one count charge bordering on advance fee fraud.
The count reads: “that you Garba Abdullahi Tahir at various times between 3rdJune 2009 and 17th May 2010 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, obtained by false pretence and with intent to defraud from the Pensions Account, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation of Nigeria, various sums in the aggregate amount of N47,251, 345.00 (Forty Seven Million, Two Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.”
Prosecuting counsel Godwin Obla, SAN did not oppose the bail application as defence counsel Nicholas Eku urged the court to adopt the bail terms earlier granted to his client.
The court adjourned the case to March 5,6 and 14, 2014 for hearing while the accused is to continue enjoying the bail earlier granted him.

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