The absence of the defence lawyer, on Friday, stalled the trial of an alleged self-proclaimed army general, Bolarinwa Abiodun, on fraud charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Mr Abiodun of fraudulently obtaining N266.5 million from the man who reported the matter to the commission.
The defendant faces 12 charges of fraud, forgery, among others, at the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja,
The alleged victim of the fraud, Bamidele Safiriyu, had testified at the previous sitting as the first prosecution witness, telling the court how Mr Abiodun allegedly defrauded him by posing as a son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, had then adjourned the matter until Friday for the cross-examination of the witness by the defence team.
But the defence lawyer was absent from court on Friday, making the scheduled cross-examination of the prosecution witness impossible, EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement.
“He called my brother that he is not feeling great,” the defendant said when asked queried about his lawyer.
The prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, expressed disappointment at the defence lawyer’s absence.
He was also unhappy that the defence lawyer allegedly failed to put a phone call through to give prior notice of his absence ahead of the proceedings.
“When I found out he wasn’t in court, I contacted him, and he seemed really animated,” Mr Oyedepo.
He added that the lawyer gave an impression that he had sent his junior to represent him at the proceedings.
Mr Oyedepo, who told the court that there were two prosecution witnesses in court to testify, said further, “My lord, we have undertaken not to delay this matter and we stand by our word.”
ALSO READ: How alleged fake army general posed as Obasanjo’s son to defraud me of N266 million – Witness
Also expressing shock at the attitude of the defence counsel, the judge said: “The court is not a marketplace where you can just do anyhow.”
Mrs Taiwo adjourned the trial until May 4 and 6.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the EFCC arraigned the defendant on 12 charges on April 12, this year.
EFCC accused him of obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of documents and possession of documents containing false pretence, among other charges.
The commission said the alleged fraud, involving about N266,500,000, was reported by Mr Safiriyu and his firm, Kodef Clearing Resources.
It said the defendant made false representations to the complainants that President Muhammadu Buhari had short-listed him and one other to be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, COAS.
It also said the defendant allegedly told the complainant that he needed a grant to “press and process the appointment.”
Mr Abiodun, who was arrested at his house in the Alagbado area of Lagos State on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, also allegedly forged a letter of appointment as COAS purportedly signed by the president and showed the same to the victim to further prove his claim.
In the said letter, he was said to have claimed that he needed to pay a certain amount of money into the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as part of the requirements for the appointment as COAS.
Mr Abiodun is also alleged to have, in May 2020, forged a Nigeria Army Identity Card with serial number 387140, claiming the same to have been issued to him from the Nigerian Army.
He also allegedly forged a ‘Letter of Recommendation’ purportedly signed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo recommending one Adebayo Rasaq Adebola, with recruitment No 77RRI/OG/556/0032555 and Adeogun Emmanuel Adesola with recruitment No 77RRI/OG/352/0123751 for employment into the Nigeria Army.
The alleged offences are said to be contrary to section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act 2006; section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act No 14 of 2006, respectively.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
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