Alleged N14 billion Police Pension scam: Defendant’s ill-health stalls trial

FCT High Court (Photo Credit: The Metro Lawyer)

The trial of Esar Dangabar and six others in the alleged N14 billion police pension scam was Tuesday stalled in an FCT High Court, following his ill health.

Mr Dangabar is among seven persons standing trial before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf.

Others charged along with him are Ahmed Wada; Atiku Kigo; Veronica Onyegbulam; Sani Zira; Uzoma Attang and Christian Madubuike.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged them to court over their complicity in the alleged N14 billion police pension fund.

Mr Baba-Yusuf had on April 3, ordered continuation of hearing following his dismissal of the objection raised by Ms Onyegbulam, through her counsel, Earnest Ikeji, on the admissibility of some of the statements she made to EFCC.

The objection led to a trial within trial in which the judge ruled that Onyegbulam, the fourth defendant, was unable to prove that she was forced into making the statements and subsequently admitted the contentious statements as exhibits.

At the resumed hearing, the fourth prosecution witness, Mustapha Gandaya, had commenced giving evidence when Mr Dangabar called the attention of his counsel, Adegbiyega Awomolo, SAN.

Mr Awomolo then sought the court’s permission to allow Mr Dangabar to exit the courtroom for him to get a short rest while he (Awomolo) hold forth for him.

Reacting, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, raised concerns on this, saying that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) does not make provision for such.

In view of the situation, Mr Awomolo applied for an adjournment.

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According to him, he would have loved proceedings to continue in the absence of his client while he held on for him.

He said, but for the fact that there was no provision for such in the ACJA, which he said did not prohibit it either, he was praying for an adjournment.

Counsel for other defendants did not object to the application for adjournment made by Mr Awomolo.

On this development, Justice Baba-Yusuf noted that despite the fact that Mr Dangabar is facing health challenge and still came to court to face trial showed good faith on his part.

The judge, therefore, adjourned the case until May 27 for continuation of hearing.

Earlier while giving testimony, Mr Gandaya, who investigated the police pension scam, told the court that EFCC invited Ms Onyegbulam on February 14, 2012 and asked her to file an assets declaration form.

He alleged that Ms Onyegbulam stated in the form that the cash she had in the bank was N300,000, while she had N100,000 at hand, and that 28 questions were contained in the form.

Mr Gandaya informed the court further that Ms Onyegbulam stated that while she had only a plot of land in Umuahia, and no other property.

He added that the anti-corruption commission wrote a letter to EcoBank to furnish it with Ms Onyegbulam’s bank statement and an account opening package.

(NAN)

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