The ongoing trial of the former Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Vincent Ogbulafor and one Emeka Ebila who were accused of defrauding the Federal Government of N 107 million with the use of fake documents, was on Friday stalled due to the bereavement of one of the defence counsels, Dr Awa Kalu.
Dr Kalu, counsel to Emeka Ebila, the second accused person had arrived the Court 3 of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja venue of the sitting prior to the commencement of the day’s business but was called that there was something urgent he had to attend to before the sitting slated for 9 am. It later turned out that he lost one of his nephews.
The counsel who held brief for him asked the Judge for a stand own as Dr Kalu had promised to return before 11 am.
Justice Ishaq Bello had earlier objected to the stand down request but when he asked for the opinion of the other counsels, the prosecution and defence counsels agreed that the Judge should stand down since cross examining the last prosecution witness in the absence of Dr Kalu might slow down the proceedings as he would need to be told what transpired all over again. In the words of the ICPC Counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, “what is gained at the bend might eventually be lost at the corner”.
Expectations that the arrival of Dr Kalu just before 11 am would signal the commencement of legal fireworks were however dashed as he asked to see the judge in the chamber. He was follwed by the other counsels after which one of the counsels came close to Prince Ogbulafor and announced to him that “the young man died”.
The lawyers eventually came back into the court and agreed that the matter would be continued on February 5, 2013.
Ogbulafor is facing trial for allegedly colluding with Emeka Ibila to float three fictitious companies, Chekwas International Nigeria Ltd, Henrichko Nigeria Ltd and D.H.L Consultants while Ogbulafor served as Minister for Special Duties in 2001. The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) had told the court that the companies were used to siphon N 82.6 million, N 11.5 million and N 6.2 million respectively. Mr Ebila was alleged to have forged documents certifying that the three companies executed contracts worth N 107 million.
The last prosecution witness is expected to be called up on February 5 when hearing resumes.