The trial of a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, and two others, was stalled yesterday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
This followed the absence of the lead defence counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN).
Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering.
The defendants pleaded not guilty during their arraignment on December 6, 2022, and, following bail hearings, the judge adjourned till yesterday for trial.
At the resumption of proceedings, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), informed the court that the prosecution had two witnesses in court and was ready to commence trial.
But Genesis Bandole, who appeared for first and second defendants – Atumeyi and Ngene – told the court that his principal, Ayorinde, wished to handle the matter personally, but was unavoidably absent.
He prayed for an adjournment.
Bandole also said the prosecution had just served an additional proof of evidence on the defence.
“My Lord, we will require some time to look through the documents,” he said.
Also, Babatunde Ogunwo, counsel to the third defendant, Salau, asked for a short date to enable him to examine the additional documents that had been served by the prosecution.
In response, Oyedepo said: “I know the learned SAN, and I would have expected that his alleged constraint is communicated to the prosecution so that I can do another business, if this one is not going on.
“I know the counsel on the ground is competent and astute. He can combat anything that happens today.”
Rotimi added that if the documents served on the defence team would be the reason for an adjournment, the documents would be recalled and served at a later time.
After listening to the arguments by all the parties, Justice Tijani Ringim adjourned till January 31 and February 3, 2023, for continuation of trial.
Credit: The Nation