Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court yesterday advised a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Abdullahi Mustapha, to produce the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu Modibbo, in court on the next adjourned date.
Justice Folasade Giwa-Ogunbanjo gave the advice following the absence of Modibbo in court to answer charges of fraud preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
When the case was called yesterday, counsel to Modibbo, who told the court that the 1st defendant was not present in court to take his plea because he has been ill, prayed the court for a short adjournment.
According to him, “My lord let me apologise for the absence of the 1st defendant in court. He is on admission. He had a major surgery 10 years ago, and he is ill.
“I have a medical report from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital to confirm that he is currently ill, and I shall be filing it before the court registry.”
On the account of health, he sought an adjournment pending when he (Modibbo) would be well enough to attend the trial.
Responding, prosecuting counsel, Henry Emore, who did not oppose the oral application for an adjournment, however posited that it should be on record that the 1st defendant had taken one adjournment out of five as stipulated by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in criminal cases.
Similarly, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendants, Alex izinyon SAN, while not opposing the request for an adjournment, remarked that it is only the living that can face trial.
Izinyon however pointed out that the statement of Emore on adjournment was not applicable to the other defendants, which the court affirmed.
Before granting an adjournment, Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo said she would not bend backwards again to grant an adjournment exceeding two weeks based on the provision of section 396 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
The judge also directed the prosecution counsel to verify the authenticity of the medical report filed by Modibbo’s counsel, and file a report on it to the court.
She subsequently adjourned till April 17 for the defendants to take their plea, and May 2, 3, 8 and 9 for commencement of trial.
Modibbo (1st defendant) and others are facing trial over allegation of fraud in the digital switch project of the federal government.
At yesterday’s sitting, the 2nd and 3rd defendants were in court except Modibbo.