Trial of former Police Pension officials scheduled to commence Monday, was stalled following an application made by former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), who was recently briefed by one of the accused persons.
Agabi pleaded with the court to allow him a little time to familiarise himself with the huge volume of court processes relating to the matter to enable him defend his client in the case.
The prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, also a senior advocate of Nigeria, told the court that he is ready to proceed with the trial but however conceded that the former Attorney-General’s application was constitutional as the constitution guarantees an accused person proper representation in line with right to fair hearing.
He however expressed regrets that the accused person waited until just recently to brief the former Attorney-General rather than utilise the long period between the last date that they were in court and today that the matter was slated for trial.
He also expressed his belief that similar antics would not be allowed to be used to truncate the trial as the nation eagerly awaits the speedy determination of the matter.
Other lawyers in the matter also conceded to an adjournment in line with Chief Agabi’s application, noting that the senior advocate has a duty to defend his client adequately and needed to be allowed to familiarise himself with the processes relating to the trial.
The former public officials were re-arraigned before Justice Hussain Baba of an Abuja High Court on an amended 24-count charge of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy involving the sum of N39.8 billion.
They had earlier been arraigned before Justice Mohammed Talba who sentenced one of the accused persons, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, to a two years jail term with an option of N750,000 fine, a sentence that angered the nation and drew uncomplimentary remarks against the nation’s judiciary in the fight against corruption.
Following public outcry, the trial of the alleged pension thieves was re-assigned to another court presided over by Justice Hussain Baba.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till 11 July for trial.
The accused persons are Mr. Essai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Cyril Attange, Mrs. Veronica Uloma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira and Christian Madubuike.
Count one of the amended charge alleged that the suspects conspired and agreed, between January 2008 and June 2011, to do an illegal act, to wit: criminal breach of trust in respect of the sum of N20.155 billion, an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code Act, Cap 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Nigeria 2007.