Trial of Ex-INEC Commissioner Stalled

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Tobi Soniyi in Lagos

The trial of a former Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Gesila Khan, and a former staff of the commission, Peter Popnen, was stalled after thugs invaded the Federal High Court premises in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The trial judge, Justice Bilikisu Aliyu had slated the trial for the whole of last week. On Thursday, the judge adjoined to Friday.

But on Friday, Senator Magnus Abe was at the Federal High Court for an order to stop the All Progressives Congress’ local government congresses from holding in Rivers State.

However, events took a turn for the worse as thugs who wanted to stop the court from sitting invaded the court premises and vandalised vehicles and other properties belonging to the court.
Justice Aliyu could not sit. The lawyers said that they expected a new date to be communicated to them.

Counsel to the first defendant, Mr. Selekeowei Larry (SAN), confirmed to THISDAY that the trial was indeed stalled.

The prosecution had already called four witnesses and tendered several documents as exhibits. The defendants’ lawyers had also cross-examined the witnesses.

The defendants are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged bribery in the sum of N185, 842, 000. 00.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing. The defendants have pledged their readiness for the trial to prove their innocence.