Lagos – Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Federal High Court in Abuja has threatened a bench warrant for the arrest of one Chidi Adabanya and eleven other accused persons in the N1,9 billion Shell Gbaran- Ubie Gas Project scam if they failed again to appear in court.
The presiding officer gave the warning after a counsel for one of the accused persons, told the court that he was informed by the surety to the first accused that Adabanya could not appear in court because he was hospitalized in Enugu.
It was alleged he suffered a stroke, being a high blood pressure and diabetes patient.
He further informed the court that his telephone conversation with the other accused persons indicated that they were not aware that the matter was slated for arraignment on Tuesday as they were not served.
He however admitted that he was served on October 16.
According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, outraged by the explanation, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court, that the information about the first accused could not be true as Adabanya appeared before the House of Representatives last week and also granted a radio interview last week on the matter before the court.
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Expressing his displeasure, Jacobs informed the court that Adabanya had written petitions against him on the matter, to the National Judicial council, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and the House of Representatives among others.
Jacobs also informed the court that the accused persons were aware of the court proceedings today and had failed to appear as they did at the last two adjourned dates, with the exception of the seventh accused. He then prayed the court to issue a bench warrant for their arrest.
The accused persons, who had been facing a 22-count charge of money laundering preferred against them by the EFCC, were expected to be re-arraigned following the re-assignment of the case to a new judge after the former trial judge, Justice Gladys Olotu, retired from the bench.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, only one suspect, Benneth Ezekiel Hartn was in court alongside his counsel, Dr Ikenna Ihezue. Barrister Otemu, appeared for the third accused, Forstech Technical Nigeria Limited, but informed the court he would hold a brief for the other accused persons.
The matter was adjourned to November 17.
- CAJ News