From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The trial of a former board member of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme, has been shifted to June 27 by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Jabi, Abuja.
The adjournment was at the instance of counsel to the defendant, Paul Erokoro (SAN), who sought a new date as a result of his involvement in another matter before the Court of Appeal. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, in October 2021, arraigned Ms Olejeme before Maryam Aliyu, the judge of the court.
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She was arraigned on a nine-count charge bordering on diversion of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N1.3 billion, but pleaded not guilty to the charge.
When the matter resumed yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Steve Odiase, informed the court of a letter from the counsel to the former NSITF chairperson requesting an adjournment.
In the letter dated May 24, Mr Odiase explained to the court that the defendant’s lawyer had a pending court hearing at the Court of Appeal in Calabar, which was the reason for the request.
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“My lord, the matter is slated for the continuation of trial but we are constrained by a letter seeking adjournment sent in by the counsel of the defendant. The letter is dated May 24, 2022.
“His reason is based on a hearing notice at the Court of Appeal division in Calabar and he attached a hearing notice to the said letter,” the prosecutor said.
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But responding to the letter, Odiase noted that defendant facing corruption charges has three opportunities to seek adjournment subject to the convenience of the court and that of the prosecutor, as provided for by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015. He informed the court he would not be objecting to the application “even though our witnesses are in court.”
“Subject to the convenience of the court, we apply to take June 27, 2022, for adjournment as suggested by the learned counsel to the defendant.”
The judge, thereafter, adjourned the matter till June 27, 2022, for the continuation of the trial.
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