Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa has threatened to close the case against the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu Modibbo, Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and two others, over the alleged fraud involving the Digital Switch Over contract.
The judge was irked by the absence of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, in court, which necessitated further adjournment of the case.
The Minister was billed to testify as a prosecution witness in the trial but was absent in court.
Explaining his absence from court, prosecution counsel Henry Emore informed Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa that the Mohammed was absent in court because he was on “an urgent assignment” from the President.
“My Lord, I’m still expecting him; when I put a call to him, the PA said the president sent him on an urgent assignment,” Umore told the court.
The Minister is part of the presidential delegation to the United Kingdom with respect to the legal altercation between Nigeria and P&ID, the Irish company tangled in a legal case with the country, which was recently awarded a multibillion court settlement against Nigeria by a UK court.
On the other remaining witness, Emore said he wished to subpoena him, which the judge later signed to give it the force of law.
In view of the circumstances, the prosecution counsel sought an adjournment to enable him bring the two remaining witnesses.
Apparently not satisfied with the inability of the prosecution to produce his two remaining witnesses, the judge reminded him that there were limits to which a court could grant adjournment in a criminal case.
“You think you can continue to waste the time of the court by asking for adjournments, the judge queried.
Consequently, the judge warned that once Emore exhausts the limit for an adjournment, she would not hesitate to close the case of the prosecution, and ask the defence to open their case.
Meanwhile, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa granted leave to the NBC boss to travel to Egypt to attend an International Telecommunications Union’s congress.
Ruling on the application, the court ordered that “leave is hereby granted to the 1st defendant to travel to Egypt from October 28 to November 22, for the ITU congress.
Justice Giwa ordered that the international passport of the 1st defendant should be released to him for the purpose of facilitating his travelling formalities.
The court ordered that the 1st defendant must submit back his international passport to the registrar of the court upon return to Nigeria on or before November 30.
Justice Giwa said granting of the leave was predicated on a sworn affidavit to be filed in court by one of the sureties to face trial should the 1st defendant fails to return to complete his trial.
The court ordered that the said surety must deposit his international passport with the registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to October 21, December 3, 4 and 5 for continuation of trial.