The absence of the EFCC prosecution team in court on Friday stalled the corruption trial of Joseph Nwobike before Justice Raliatu Adebiyi of the Ikeja High Court in Lagos.
Mr. Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, is being tried by the EFCC for allegedly perverting the course of justice.
He was also accused of offering gratification to public officials, including court registrars and judges of the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court.
At the last hearing on March 28, the defence team led by Olawale Akoni had argued that the EFCC did not carry out a thorough investigation of the allegations before charging Mr. Nwobike to court.
But at the resumed hearing on Friday, the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, and his team were absent in court.
When the case was announced from the cause list, Zainab Ettu, an EFCC lawyer who was in the courtroom for a different trial, could not explain her colleagues’ absence.
“My Lord, I am here for another trial, I don’t know why Mr. Oyedepo is not in court for this trial,” she said.
Mr. Akoni, however, registered his displeasure about the development.
“I am quite surprised by the absence of the prosecution; he should have at least informed the court if he had some other engagements.
“There is apparently no reason for their absence, they should show some respect to the court.
“We have been on this matter since April 21, 2016; the prosecution should come to court and prove its case against the defendant so that the defendant can defend himself.
“I will be seeking your Lordship’s direction on at least imposing a time frame for all the parties in this case.
“We have another court date on May 18, we will be praying for your Lordship to give us an additional date,” Mr. Akoni said.
Ms. Adebiyi, while responding to Akoni’s submission, noted that the court would not be sitting on May 18 because she had other official duties.
“It is unfortunate that the prosecution did not show up in court, I will be attending a special court session on May 18.
“The previously adjourned date of May 18 is hereby vacated and the case adjourned to May 23, June 5 and June 6,” she said.
The judge instructed Ms. Ettu to inform her absent colleagues of the adjourned dates.
“Miss Zainab Ettu of the EFCC, who is in court for another matter, is to inform Rotimi Oyedepo of the adjourned dates,” Ms. Adebiyi said.
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