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Absence of Defendant Stalls Arraignment Of Supreme Court Officials, Adjourns to Dec. 15


The arraignment of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Saleh Gambo and two other top officials of the apex court accused of complicity in N2.2bn fraud, has been shifted to December 15.
This followed the absent in court of the second defendant, the Deputy Director of Finance at the Supreme Court, Sharif Adbulrahman.
Abdulrahman was said to have been hospitalised in an undisclosed hospital.
The Federal Government was to put the three on trial over their involvement in fraud and corruption at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi, Abuja, following the misuse of the sum of N2.2bn from the coffers of the Supreme Court. The trial was to commence, Thursday.
Equally charged before the court over the alleged fraud was the Assistant Director of Finance at the apex court, Rilwanu Lawal.
The trio were to enter their plea to a nine-count criminal charge the Federal Government entered against them before trial Justice A.B Mohammed.
However, when the matter was called up for arraignment, counsel to the 2nd defendant, Garba Teteng (SAN), told the court that his client was indisposed to attend the proceeding considering that he is presently on admission at the hospital.
Tetengi therefore pleaded with the Judge to adjourn the matter till a later date.
Charles Adeogun-Philip, prosecution counsel, who is handling the case on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, expressed his disappointment that trial of the three accused could not go ahead as scheduled.
He further noted that counsel to the 2nd defendant, Tetengi, failed to adduce any document showing that his client was indeed on admission in any hospital, as well as the ailment for which he was hospitalised.
Nevertheless, Justice Mohammed stressed that the matter could not proceed in the absence of one the 2nd defendant since the three accused persons were jointly charged by the Federal Government .
Specifically, the defendants were alleged to have diverted N2.2bn belonging to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, into personal bank accounts domiciled at United Bank For Africa Plc with account number 2027642863.
They were further alleged to have between 2009 and 2016, received gratification in the sum of N10million from Willysdave Ltd, a private contractor to the Supreme Court of Nigerian and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 10(a) (i) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same Act.
They were alleged to have on different occasions, surreptitiously used their positions to receive gratifications to the tune of over N74.4m from private contractors that provided services to the Supreme Court between 2009 and 2016.

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