N2.5bn Fraud: Absence of Kawu’s Lawyer stalls Trial

The on-going trial of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, has yet again suffered another setback due to the absence of his lawyer, A. U. Mustapher (SAN) in court.

Kawu was recently arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over an alleged shady deal that ended in the payment of the N2.5 billion seed grant for Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme of the federal government to a private company, Pinnacle Communications Limited.

The Director General is facing a 12-count charge bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government, together with Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of the same company.

Mustapher (SAN), during the arraignment yesterday had informed the trial judge, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja, of his intention to attend a burial ceremony of his late uncle on the next adjourned date.

Justice Giwa however ruled against his absence and advised him to send a representative from his chamber.

However at the resumed trial, the court was dismayed when Adetayo Adeyomo, the counsel sent in by Kawu’s lawyer, said he could not continue with the trial because he was not properly briefed.

Adeyomo pleaded with the court to continue with the proceedings and grant leave to Mustapher to cross-examine witnesses called by ICPC on the next adjourned date.

Justice Giwa turned down his plea saying that the court could not accommodate plans by the defense counsel to waste its time, more so that he had been properly advised on what to do.

She added that the court had noted all the adjournments so far taken by Kawu’s lawyer and would not go beyond the five allowed by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

She said; “I will continue to count and grant adjournments allowed in the ACJA. If you like, continue to waste adjournments. You cannot continue to waste the time of the court.”

The judge subsequently adjourned to 8th May, 2019 for trial.