N5.2 billion scam: Absence of EFCC counsel stalls trial of Borishade, 4 others

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Mr. Borishade, Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, and others were first arraigned in 2009.

The absence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Counsel, Sebastine Hon, on Monday stalled hearing in an Abuja High Court on a suit filed by the Commission against former Aviation Minister, Babalola Borishade, and four others.

The EFCC had charged Mr. Borishade, his former personal assistant, Tunde Dairo, and two others with mismanaging a N5.2 billion Aviation Safe Tower contract.

Others on trial for the alleged offence were a former Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, Rowland Iyayi; an Australian, George Eider; and Avsatel Communications Ltd.

The suspects were arraigned on November 19, 2009 by EFCC on a 15-count charge of taking bribe and forging aviation contract documents.

At the resumed hearing, Mr. Hon sent a letter conveying his apology over his inability to appear in court.

Opposing the submission, counsel to Mr. Borishade, Sunday Onuabi, said, “This is the second time that this case is being adjourned at the instance of the prosecution. My lord, it was the prosecution that asked for today`s date at the last adjourned date and yet he is not in court. My lord, he did not notify us that he will not be in court today.”

Mr. Onuabi argued that even the 10th prosecution witness, who was supposed to continue his testimony in the court, was absent.

In her oral submission, counsel to Mr. Eider, Regina Okotie-Eboh, prayed the court to close the prosecution`s case and allow the accused to open their defence.

Justice Abubakar Umar, in his ruling, held that it would not be fair to close the prosecution`s case when his witness had not finished his testimony.

“Justice is three-way traffic, justice for the court, the accused and the society and it will not be fair to close the prosecution’s case at this stage. The case is hereby adjourned in the interest of justice and fair hearing,” he said.

Mr. Umar adjourned the case to April 1 for continuation of hearing.

(NAN)


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