The absence of a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Adamawa governor, Murtala Nyako, over alleged N40 billion fraud was stalled in a Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel, A.O. Atolagbe, told the court that the proceedings for the day was to get the response of the defence to the admissibility or otherwise of some documents.
“Today my lord, is for the response of the defendants to the documents sought to be tendered by the prosecution through the third prosecution witness.”
Mr. Atolagbe, however, said that the witness was not in court because he was on leave and outside Abuja.
He added that since it was just to get the defendants’ response, he didn’t think it was necessary for the witness to be present in court.
Mr. Atolagbe said that they could not call any further witness until the third witness had finished giving his testimony.
He, however, gave the assurance that the prosecution would produce the witness in court on the next adjourned date.
The defence counsel, Ibrahim Isiaku , who said he was holding the brief of Kanu Agabi, SAN, informed the court that he just got information that the witness was not in court.
He added that since no other witness could be called, it was better to continue the matter on the next adjourned date.
The judge, Okon Abang, frowned at the prosecution’s thinking that the matter could go on without the witness present in court.
Mr. Abang said that it was the position of the law that the witness must be in court since the said document sought to be tendered involved him.
He said that the prosecution had failed to give a reasonable excuse as to why the witness was not in court.
“The matter was adjourned at the instance of the defence to enable them decide whether or not they will allow the admissibility of the documents.
“However, the witness is not in court and no reasonable excuse has been given for his absence; even though the prosecution says he is on leave, I do not know whether it is annual or casual leave.
“Moreover, as a witness on oath, that is not a reasonable excuse as the witness must be in court for the defence to argue on the admissibility of the documents ,” Mr. Abang said.
He adjourned the matter till February 20.
Mr. Nyako and his son, Abdulaziz, are standing trial over alleged N40 billion fraud.
The father and son are facing a 37-count money laundering charge, alongside two others, Zulkifik Abba and Abubakar Aliyu.
They allegedly diverted the funds from the Adamawa treasury between January 2011 and December. 2014.
The funds were allegedly diverted through five companies – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms and Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.
The companies were also charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.