Prosecution Abruptly Closes Case against Orubebe after Calling One Witness

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The prosecution has closed its case of alleged breach of the code of conduct for public officer filed against former Minister of the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The federal government had October last year filed a four-count charge bordering on false assets declaration and demanding and collection of bribe of about N 70 million against the foramer minister.

However, when it became clear that government could not substantiate the allegations contained in the charges, it amended the charge and reduced to only one.

At previous hearings before the amendment, the tribunal called on the state to call its witnesses but was unable to produce one and instead applied severally that the hearing be adjourned.

Yesterday, when the trial resumed, the prosecution counsel, Ejike Orji, told the CCT that ‘‘having review the case, we felt there is no further course to call for any other witness in this matter, to this we humbly apply to close our case for the prosecution.’’

The defence counsel led by Selekowei Larry (SAN), when called to open the defence of accused expressed surprise, saying that he was expecting  the prosecution to call its second witness.
He therefore prayed the tribunal for an adjournment to enable him open his client’s defence, subject to the convenience of the tribunal.

The tribunal chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar, obliged the application of the defence counsel, by adjourning to  May 31, 2016 for the accused person to open his defence.
The amended one-count charge against Orubebe read: “That you, Godsday Peter Orubebe, on or about June 29. 2015, while being a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this tribunal, did make a false declaration of assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) when you failed to declare Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja on assumption of office on September 26, 2007 and on leaving office (at the end of your tenure on  June 29, 2011) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 of CCB and Tribunal Act Cap C15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 23 ( 2) of the same Act.”
Orubebe had pleaded not guilty to the single count charge.