Hearing in the trial of Mallam Nasir El Rufai was today stalled by the absence of the prosecution witness. An Abuja High Court was told by the prosecution that Idowu Sunday, a police officer, is indisposed.The defence was due to continue its cross-examination of Idowu Sunday today.
Counsel to the third accused drew the attention of the court to the fact that this is not the first time the prosecution would delay the trial for a similar reason. The court asked the prosecution to make all its witnesses available on the next adjourned date, 23 May 2012.
At the last sitting, Idowu Sunday, an inspector of police, who was formerly with the EFCC, testified as PW2. Idowu said the matter began when a petition was forwarded to the EFCC by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Regarding the revoked NIPOST plot in Maitama, PW2 said it was meant for a post office, but he did not know the terms of allocation to NIPOST, and could not say if NIPOST is in breach of those terms. PW2 said he is not aware that NIPOST has a civil suit pending on this matter, and the verdict of that court may uphold the revocation.
PW2 also said he is also not aware that NIPOST is seeking a declaration to void the revocation, or that NIPOST’s civil action was pending before the criminal case was filed. PW2 Idowu denied knowing that NIPOST had leased the land to Rosehill, a private firm. He affirmed that he read the statement of El Rufai; but when told that the first accused disclosed NIPOST’s lease to Rosehill in that statement, Idowu said he could not remember everything about the case. When asked why the Rosehill lease was not investigated, Idowu said NIPOST did not disclose it.
PW2, who said he has served in the police for 24 years, further testified that he does not know that Rosehill requested the first accused to transfer the NIPOST allocation to them, but he conceded that the FCT minister has the right to allocate and revoke plots of land
The defence is expected to continue its cross-examination of Idowu Sunday at the next hearing.
The case began in 2009 when the Yar’Adua government charged El Rufai in 2009 for allegedly revoking plots of land from two government agencies and allocating them to his wives and friends. El Rufai,, who was then in exile, has said it is an attempt to persecute him. When he returned to the country on 1 May 2010, he announced that fighting the case was his priority. He was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but that court quashed the charges, agreeing with El Rufai’s argument that he was being arraigned in a wrong court under a wrong law. The government responded to this defeat by refiling the case at the Abuja High Court.