The trial of the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Alex Badeh, at a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, could not go ahead as slated, following the argument of defence counsels that they needed time to study a new development in the matter. The trial is now to commence on Wednesday, March 16.
The defence had argured that it needed time to study the inclusion of additional proof-of-evidence by the prosecution.
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the prosecutor, had filed additional proof to beef up evidence against Badeh.
Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), who replaced Samuel Zibiri (SAN), as the defence counsel, however, filed an application seeking an adjournment to study the case file.
Olujimi also said the defence team needed time to study the additional evidence filed by the prosecution.
But the prosecuting counsel opposed the application. Jacobs further said Badeh’s first lawyer, Simon Zibiri, had earlier been briefed by his client when the case started from the prison custody.
Jacobs said that Badeh brought a new counsel to frustrate the trial.
However, the Judge, Justice Okon Abang held that Section 36 (6) allows the defendant the personal right to choose a Counsel and cannot be denied.
He said the applicant had the option of defending himself personally or to enlist a private counsel to act on his behalf.
“The applicant has since March 7 when he was arraigned been represented by a counsel, so he cannot in the attempt to hire another counsel halt the trial.
“Today is reserved for commencement of trial and the court will not allow any flimsy motion to stop that.
“However, on the issue of late service of the addition proof of evidence filed by the prosecution, the applicant may have a point there and so the application has succeeded in parts”, Abang said.
The Judge held that “in the circumstance, the application succeeds in parts to enable counsel to the applicant study the new proof of evidence before the commencement of trial”
He ruled that in the interest of justice, the prosecution is expected to serve its additional proof of evidence at such a time as to allow the defence prepare its reply.
He thereafter ruled that the matter adjourned till March 16 for commencement of trial.
EFCC had preferred a 11 count charge against the former CDS, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The former military chief In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/46/2016, was alleged to have misappropriated the sum of N3.9 billion belonging to the Nigerian Air Force while serving as the Chief of Air Staff.
He was alleged to have used the looted funds to purchase choice properties within the highbrow areas in Abuja.
The commission equally cited a firm, Iyalikam Nigerian Limited, as the 2nd defendant in the charge bordering on money laundering, corruption and criminal breach of trust.