The injuries were severe and prevented the accused from attending his trial
The lawyer representing alleged petrol subsidy fraudster, Seun Ogunbambo, on Wednesday told an Ikeja High Court that his client had been hospitalized and could not attend the day’s trial.
Mobolaji Akintunde said that Mr. Ogunbambo fell during his bath, sustained spinal cord injuries, and is currently recuperating at the Nigerian Army Military Hospital, Yaba, Lagos.
“I apologize for the absence of the first defendant. In a sister case that came up last year, we informed the court that he was sick and indisposed. We have brought a medical report to that effect,” Mr. Akintunde said.
“We undertake to produce him as soon as he is well,” he added.
Mr. Ogunbambo, Habila Theck, and their company, Fargo Energy Limited, are appearing before Justice Onigbanjo over an alleged N979.6 million fuel subsidy fraud.
Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, said that the defence’s submission is a “calculated attempt to frustrate this case.”
“My learned friend gave me a piece of document few minutes ago. In the document, we don’t know who signed it, nothing to show in the document that the person who signed it is a medical doctor, the date the patient was admitted is not stated, the ailment is not stated,” said Mr. Oyedepo. “The disposition of the first defendant in this case is becoming a dangerous precedent in that he is indirectly seeking a stay of proceedings behind the door.”
Mr. Oyedepo urged the court to compel the officers named in the medical report to produce the suspect.
The trial judge, Adeniyi Onigbanjo, adjourned till February 10 and directed the prosecution to take the medical report to the hospital and verify his claims.
“If he is telling a lie, we would know,” Mr. Onigbanjo added.
Mr. Ogunbambo was first declared wanted six months ago by the EFCC after the judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
The suspect, after filing an application to transfer his trial to another judge, had continually failed to attend court proceedings.
Last November, the Police Special Fraud Unit, also declared Mr. Ogunbambo wanted for operating with the license of Tubb Marine Services. The police said he did not import petroleum products but fraudulently arranged forged documents with which he applied and received payment of over N2 billion as subsidy claims.