By Fatai Abdullahi
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, adjourned the arraignment of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu to May 2.
Others are Sir Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Ltd, Dipo Onifade and Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
They are facing trial over allegation of fraud in the digital switchover the project of the Federal Government.
At a resumed sitting, Onifade was absent while Omoluwa and Modibbo were present in court.
Counsel to Onifade, Alex Izinyon (SAN) told the court that the 2nd defendant had informed him through a text message that he left Kaduna in the early hours of Wednesday to attend the proceeding.
However, Izinyon was apprehensive over the absence of Onifade and was infuriated because his phone lines were not reachable.
“My lord, I have a serious challenge in respect of the 2nd defendant. This morning, he sent a text message to me that he had left Kaduna en route Abuja for his arraignment.
“My lord, the 2nd defendant was in court on the 1st day even when he was not served; on the 12th of March, he was also in court. I pray nothing has happened to him, Izinyon told the court.
In view of the development, Izinyon pleaded for an hour stand down to wait for Onifade’s arrival.
After the stand down, which eventually stretched to more than two hours, Onifade was nowhere to be found.
On resumption of sitting, Izinyon said, “My lord, I regret to state that the position has not changed. I hope it is well with him.
“I have tried his line and it’s saying not reachable.
Izinyon, therefore, craved the indulgence of the court to have the matter adjourned, hoping to know what actually happened.
“I plead we move the matter to the next adjourned date of May 2” Izinyon stated.
Reacting, the prosecution counsel, Henry Emore, confirmed seeing the phone chat between Onifade and Izinyon.
“We sincerely hope that all is well with the 2nd defendant. We conceded to the plea for an adjournment,” Emore stated.
In a short ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa adjourned the matter to May 2 for arraignment.
It would he recalled that Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa had on March 12 directed that Modibbo, who had been absent on two separate occasions, be produced in court.
Modibbo’s counsel, Abdullahi Mustapha (SAN) had told the court that his client was absent in court based on health ground.
“My lord, let me apologize for the absence of the 1st defendant in court. He is on admission.
“He had major surgery 10 years ago and is ill.
“I have a medical report from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital to confirm that he is currently ill, and I shall be filing it before the court registry,” Mustapha told the court.
Consequently, “On account of ill health, I seek an adjournment pending when he (Modibbo) will be well enough to attend trial” Mustapha pleaded.
The prosecuting counsel, Henry Emore did not oppose the oral application for an adjournment but however posited that it should be on record that they have taken one adjournment out of 5, as stipulated by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in criminal cases.