LAGOS HERALD – Hearing on a case of money laundering preferred against Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, standing trial for a six-count charge including allegations of fraud was on Thursday stalled.
The development was occasioned by the failure of the Lead Defence Counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN) to appear for the hearing.
The Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, however, ordered the team to close its defence and prepare its final address when the matter came up for a continuation of trial on Thursday.
Justice Agatha Okeke gave the order following the failure of the lead Defence Counsel, Agabi to continue the trial of the Senator in alleged N204 million fraud.
The lawmaker who represents Akwa Ibom North-East District at the National Assembly is undergoing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering and being in possession of six vehicles worth N204 million.
The properties are said to be at the instance of one Olajide Omokore, whose companies allegedly executed contracts for the Akwa Ibom State government.
A member of the Defence team, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), prayed the court for an adjournment on the ground that the Lead Counsel who is in possession of the case file, is currently receiving medical treatment abroad.
“With due respect my Lord, we shall be asking for an adjournment. We have filed a letter to that effect before this Honourable Court. The lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN is abroad for medical treatment and he has the file of this case.
He called me to passionately plead for just one more adjournment. If I had the case file, I would have proceeded with this case,” Ozekhome said.
Responding to the application, Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ekele Iheanacho, expressed displeasure with the numerous pleas from the defence and the several adjournments granted in the course of the trial at the instance of the defence.
“My Lord, we just got the letter of adjournment from the Chambers of the learned Kanu Agabi,SAN.
On our part, we will say that this is very worrisome and we urge the court to refuse the application.” he said.
Ruling on the defence’s prayers, Justice Okeke upheld the argument of the prosecution and turned down Ozekhome’s request for an adjournment.
The court consequently ordered him to continue his defence. However, Ozekhome, while addressing the court after the ruling, insisted that the defence could not continue, as the case file was with the lead defence counsel
“My lord, we don’t have the case file,” he said.
The prosecution thereafter applied that the case of the defence be closed. The application was granted and the court ordered parties to file their final written addresses.
Justice Okeke, thereafter, adjourned the matter till June 22, 2022, for the adoption of final addresses.
SOURCE: LAGOS HERALD