Law News
Ogbulafor’s case adjourned as co-accussed falls sick

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday adjourned, till Wednesday, the judgment in the N170m fraud charges preferred against a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Vincent Ogbulafor.

The adjournment was necessitated by a report by Mrs. Eghwere Osiaje, who is the counsel for Ogbulafor’s co-accused, Emeka Ebila, that he suddenly developed ailment few days to the judgment and was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of the National Hospital in Abuja.

The trial judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, before adjourning the judgment had welcomed argument from the lawyers representing the various parties on whether he could go ahead to deliver the judgment in Ebila’s absence.

Both the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Olayemi Akanmode, and Ogbulafor’s lawyer, Mr. J.N Egwuonwu, had urged the court to deliver the judgment as Ebila would not have expected to play any role even if he was present in court.

But Osiaje protested, arguing that delivering the judgment in his client’s absence would be in breach of statutory provisions which makes it mandatory that an accused person must be present in court throughout the period of his trial, including the day of judgment.

Justice Ishaq, eventually adjourn the judgment not on the basis of Osiaje’s argument but on the grounds that it could be difficult to enforce the judgment of court if for instance the accused was convicted.

Ogbulafor and Ebila, who is a former Secretary of the National Economic Intelligence Committee, are being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission on 16 counts of about N170m fraud.

The ICPC had arraigned the accused persons on May 10, 2010, alleging that Ogbulafor, while serving as Minister of State for Special Duties in 2001 conspired with the others to float three fictitious companies, with which they perpetrated the fraud.

Egwuonwu had while adopting his client’s final written address, urged the court to discharge and acquit his client on all the counts, arguing that the prosecution’s case failed to link his client to the commission of any crime.

He urged the court to jettison the allegation in Ebila’s “confessional statement” that the sum of N28m was paid to Ogbulafor with two bank drafts.

“The drafts referred to in the statements made by the second accused person (Ebila) cannot be relied on by the court to decide whether or not the first accused (Ogbulafor) took the benefit of them since they were not tendered in court,” he said.

Prosecution lawyer, Marcus Abu, while adopting his final address urged the court to hold that the prosecution has proved its case against the accused persons beyond reasonable doubt.

The accused were alleged to have used Henrichiko Nig. Ltd, DHL Consultants and Chekwas Industries, to fraudulently obtain N82.6m, N11.5m and N6.2m, respectively, in 2001.

According to the ICPC, the offences committed contravened Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Click here to read from source.