Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Monday, stopped a staff of Ecobank Plc from testifying against a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and six others.
Justice Jude Okeke stopped prosecution witness Chidi Eboigbe, a Compliance Officer, from giving evidence in the trial after agreeing with the defence team that his name was not contained in the list of witnesses submitted by the prosecution.
Justice Okeke in his ruling held that the omission offends the provisions of 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the defendants on a 10-count amended fraud charge, with the ex-SGF accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544 million for grass-cutting and simplified irrigation in the North-East.
Others with whom Lawal is being prosecuted by the EFCC are his brother, Hamidu David Lawal; a director of Rholavision Engineering Limited; an employee of the company, Sulaiman Abubakar and the Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Limited, Apeh John.
The two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited, are also joined as defendants in the case.
All the defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
EFCC’s lawyer Offem Uket asked for an adjournment to file the additional proof of evidence.
Defence lawyer Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, expressed displeasure over EFCC’s request for an adjournment which he said was informed by the commission’s failure to keep its house in order.
Defence lawyer Sunday Ameh, SAN, representing the second defendant adopted Olujinmi’s position.
Justice Okeke adjourned till September 14 and 16 for the continuation of trial.