Justice Mikailu Abdullahi of a Niger State High Court, sitting in Minna, has adjourned the trial of a former governor of the state, Babangida Aliyu and two others for an alleged N2 billion fraud to September 10, 2019.
Aliyu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko, and the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Niger State Chapter, Barrister Tanko Beji, on a seven-count amended charge bordering on criminal breach of trust.
The defence counsels were expected to cross-examine the first prosecution witness, Bala Muhammad, on June 19, 2019. However, their absence stalled the expected continuation of the trial, prompting the trial judge to adjourn the case.
Before the adjournment, however, counsel for the EFCC, Boniface Bassey, expressed concerns at what seemed to be a delay tactic, reminding the court that the defence team had also failed to appear before the court at the last sitting.
He noted that it was unfortunate, that the defence counsels were not in court, though they sent in letters seeking for an adjournment.
“Here we are today, and none of the counsels are present in court,” Bassey said, notifying the court of the decision of the prosecution to move application for the witness to be discharged in order to enable the prosecution continue with the matter. .
Arguing further, Bassey stressed that corruption cases were meant to be given speedy trial. He thus notified the court that the prosecution has filed an application to foreclose the defence, since the defence had failed to appear for the second time to cross-examine the witness.
While adjourning the case, Justice Abdullahi, held that: “If at the next adjourned date, the defence did not appear, I will discharge the PW1.”