A new twist emerged on Tuesday in the prosecution of the former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC as the anti-graft agency expressed displeasure over the non-appearance of the accused person at the resumption of his trial.
The trial resumed on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 before Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Counsel to the EFCC, K.C Nzozuie described Nnamani’s absence as part of the ploy to frustrate his trial. According to Nzozuie, the case which started in 2007 has suffered set backs because of Nnamani’s ceaseless prayers for medical leave which he prolongs by bringing various excuses before the court.
Justice Yunusa in an earlier ruling on April 17, 2013 on an application for overseas medical treatment by the former governor, agreed that Nnamani could travel abroad to treat his ailment but added that he must return to the country before the next adjourned date. The judge also ordered Nnamani to file a notice of return to the court as soon as he gets back to the country and return his international passport to the court. The former Governor however failed to turn up at the resumed trial on Tuesday.
Nnamani’s counsel, Abubakar Shamsudeen told the court that his client’s absence was due to the fact that he is still recuperating following a heart surgery he underwent at a hospital in the United States of America. Shamsudeen apologized on behalf of his client as he disclosed that former Governor Nnamani obtained a medical report from his doctors that he would need at least ninety days (90) to fully recover.
He therefore asked the court to grant his client more time as stated by the report. He tendered the medical report before the court.
The report was however faulted by Nzozuie, the EFCC counsel who observed that the report did not state that the former governor was on admission neither did it state the number of days for which he will be under observation as claimed by the defense counsel. He urged the court to discountenance the defense counsel’s application and issue a bench warrant on Nnamani.
Nzozuie argued that “the letter has not changed from the previous ones presented by the defense. He has not been coming to court owing to one excuse or the other. This matter started in 2007 and based on one application or the other by the first defendant, we have had to take long adjournments in this matter. The conduct of the first defendant is aimed at delaying the trial, I urge your Lordship to discountenance the application and issue a bench warrant on the defendant. If he fails to appear we would be forced to ask the court to vary the condition for bail granted to him”.
While giving his ruling, Justice Yunusa pointed out that the medical report was just a letter addressed to the court. He said based on section 55 of the Evidence Act, the medical report should come in the form of a medical certificate duly signed by a Federal or State government official from a certified government hospital. He also stated that former Governor Nnamani will be granted more time to appear, failure of which the law will take its full course. The judge fixed September 25, 2013 for commencement of trial.
Nnamani, is facing charges of money laundering and financial crimes to the tune of about N4.5 billion.