Fraud trial of Peace Corps boss Akoh adjourned

National Commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh
National Commandant of the Nigerian Peace Corps, Dickson Akoh

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday adjourned the trial of the Peace Corps commandant, Dickson Akoh, to May 8 due to an earlier application for adjournment filed by the prosecution counsel.

Mr. Akoh is accused of fraud by the police. He has denied the allegations.

When the case came up on Wednesday, the prosecution counsel was not represented.

The defence counsel, John Ochogwu, said he was served a letter by the prosecution counsel seeking for adjournment.

“We are in receipt of a letter written from the Office of the Department of State Security dated February 20, 2018. It is in effect an application for adjournment, the reason stated is that Ahmed Aliko (prosecutor) is out of jurisdiction.

“The complaint is yet to comply with the ruling of the court. Beyond Mr. Aliko, they (counsels) have had a number of prosecutors and any of them should have been in court today to proceed,” Mr. Ochogwu said.

Despite his observations, Mr. Tsoho adjourned the case till May 8 for continuation of hearing.

The Nigerian Police Force in November last year withdrew the 90-count charge instituted against Mr. Akoh and replaced it with a 13-count charge.

The police also applied for the amendment ahead of hearing of the charge by the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The police have been having a running battle with the Peace Corps Commandant in the last one year, culminating in his arrest alongside 49 other members of the corps on February 28, 2017.

No reason was given by the police for the amendment of the 90-count charge.

It was however gathered that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, had earlier this year faulted the charges brought against Mr. Akoh as bogus.

It was gathered that the AGF found that most of the counts were duplicated.

The police filed the charges after invading the head office of the Peace Corps during its official commissioning in Abuja.

A team of legal experts put in place by the AGF to review the 90-count charge was said to have advised that the charges be compressed to 13.

On Wednesday, the defence counsel also noted that the court’s ruling that the premises of his clients be unsealed had not been complied with.

The judge, John Tsoho, had earlier in November asked the police to unseal the headquarters of the Peace Corps. The police is yet to comply with the ruling.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently refused to assent to the Peace Corps bill (forwarded to him by the National Assembly).

Mr. Buhari cited dwindling public finances and duplication of duties as reasons for turning down the controversial bill.

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