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N32.8bn pension scam: Trial stalled

25 June 2012, 15:47

Abuja - The trial of six civil servants, accused of stealing N32.8 billion from police pension funds, could not go on on Monday due to the failure of the defence to serve the prosecution with court processes.

The case is being presided over by Justice Mohammed Talba of the FCT High Court.

The accused persons are Esai Dangabar, Atiku Kigo (Permanent Secretary), Ahmed Wada (Director), John Yusufu (Assistant Director), Mrs Veronica Onyegbula (Cashier) and Sani Zira (ICT Officer).

The officers, former staff of the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, were arraigned on a 16-count criminal charge of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by the EFCC.

It will be recalled that the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) on April 14 suspended the five serving federal civil servants in following allegations of fraud at the Police Pensions Office.

The suspension took effect from March 29.

At the resumed trial, EFCC counsel Rotimi Jacobs told the court that the counsel to the three accused persons had yet to obey the order of the judge, which he gave on May 28, to serve the prosecution with all processes.

Jacobs told the court that the counsel only served him with their motion to quash the charges in open court.

``My Lord, the matter is for the hearing of the motion by the three of the accused persons for the criminal charges to be quashed and also for reply on points of law.

``I am not sure that the matter can go on because we find ourselves in a tight corner. I was only served with the motion today before the court started sitting.

``I remember, My Lord, on May 28, ordered the counsel to the three accused persons to serve the prosecution before June 25. But they waited for 21 days to pass before doing that in court.

``My Lord, for the interest of justice, the rules compel the accused counsel to serve the prosecution so that we can reply to all the issues raised,’’ Jacobs said.

He suggested that the matter be adjourned to such a date that the prosecutor would study and get ready with its reply to the accused persons motion.

He, however, urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that the adjournment was not at the instance of the prosecution but the defence.

Counsel to Kigo (second accused), Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN) confirmed that the prosecution was served in open court only on Monday and asked for a short adjournment.

Mr John Egwuonwu, counsel to Wada, told the court that in view of the late service of the motion, the matter be adjourned.

Counsel to Yusufu (fourth accused), Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), tendered an apology to the prosecution for the late service of the motion and prayed the court to, in the interest of fair hearing, adjourn the matter.

 In his ruling, Justice Talba again ordered counsel to the three accused persons to ensure that the prosecution was duly served and adjourned the case to July 17 for hearing of the motion to dismiss the criminal charges filed by three out of the six accused persons. (NAN) 


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