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Police Pension Scam Absence of defendant stalls proceedings

The acccused in the case are standing trial for complicity in the over N24 billion scam in the police pension fund.

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The absence of a defendant, Ahmed Wada, stalled the hearing of the alleged Police Pension Fund (PFF) scam on Friday at  an FCT High Court.

Esar Dangabar, Atiku Kigo, Ahmed Wada, Veronica Onyegbula, Sani Zira, Uzoma Attang and Christian Madubuke, are standing trial for complicity in the over N24 billion scam in the police pension fund.

At the last sitting, Mr Ernest Ikeji, counsel to Onyegbula, informed the court that his client was sick and the trial-within-trial was adjourned at his instance.

The judge, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, on Nov. 29 also adjourned till Nov. 30 after arguments from the counsel in the matter on the veracity Onyegbula’s statements to EFCC.

At the previous sitting, prosecution witness, Mustapha Gadnaya, an official of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), continued with his testimony.

Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the prosecution counsel, sought to tender the documents by the witness.

However, Ikeji, the counsel to Onyegbula, said his client did not make those statements voluntarily and cited Sections 29 (2) (b) of the Evidence Act, 2011.

“EFCC refused to release her on bail, saying that her bosses had been released and if she refused to make statements she would remain there.”

He urged the court to conduct trial within trial to obtain the truth of the documents.

At the resumed hearing on Friday, Mr Yakubu Dangana, Counsel to Wada, informed the court that his client was absent.

Dagana said that his client’s absence was because of two surgeries he had involving his spinal cord.

He said he filed and served a letter to that effect dated Jan. 17 to all the counsel and the court also.

Dangana said that his client had requested earlier for leave of court to seek medical attention in Dubai, which was objected to by the prosecution.

He said that the delay in getting medical attention led to these double surgeries.

The lawyer subsequently applied for leave of court for his client to be absent for two months to recuperate fully to continue his trial.

All the other defence counsel did not oppose the application, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe, holding brief for the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), opposed the application.

Atolagbe told the court that the trial-within-trial involved only Onyegbula and not all the defendants.

Baba-Yusuf after listening to their submissions adjourned till March 15 for trial-within-trial.

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