The arraignment of the former Director General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was Tuesday morning stalled due to the absence of counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in court.
When the case was called up, the prosection counsel , Salisu Majidadi, was not in court nor was the EFCC represented by another counsel.
Consequently, counsel to the first defendant, Sunday Ameh, said he was never informed nor communicated to why EFCC was not represented in court.
The former Director General NBC is been arraigned on an amended 15-count criminal charge bordering on alleged N2.9bn fraud.
The former NBC DG is facing trial alongside the Director of Finance and Accounts, .Patrick Areh, Basil Udotai and Babatunji Amure.
Ameh said he would have asked the court to strike out the case if the defendant was already arraigned.
“We are surprise they are not in court, we are also not aware of reason of their absence”, Ameh said.
All the three counsels for the other defendants aligned theirselves with Ameh’s submission.
The trial Judge, Gabriel Kolawole, ruled that in view of the situation, the matter was adjourned to January 24, 2017 for arraignment.
The defendants were accused of abuse in the procurement process..
The anti-graft commission had alleged that a prima facie case of criminal conspiracy, money laundering, theft, abuse of office and official corruption has been established against the suspects.
“It was observed that only seven of the 12 companies opened and funded letters of credit amounting to N3.6 billion.
“The companies were supposed to obtain facilities from the banks and execute the contracts after which they shall be paid by the NBC since cash collateral had been secured by the bank, not to use the collaterised fund letters of credit as the bank did.
”That officials of NBC responsible for procurement process, the director of Technology, who is in charge of the spectrum bandwidth and the store officers denied knowledge of such contract.
“That 12 companies were discovered to have been licensed and contracted to supply the digital set top boxes from China by NBC, which placed N15,038,400,600 in Zenith Bank as collateral/guarantee for the supply.
“However, only seven of the 12 companies opened letters of credit, amounting to N3.6 billion while N1.237,400,000 was for the Digital Access fee paid to In-View Technology, making N4,977,227,400 and leaving a balance of N10,061,172,600 which could not be explained.
“That the managing partners of Technology Advisor, who was paid N2,899,400,000 could not provide any evidence of service(s) rendered by his firm to warrant such payment.
“That the amount paid was beyond the NBC’s threshold. It is an amount that can only be approved by the FEC”, the commission had earlier alleged.