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Absence of Peace Corps Commandant, Akoh in Court Stalls Trial, Adjourns to July 5


The trial of the National Commandant of the Peoples Corps of Nigeria, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, in the 90-count charge brought against him by Federal Government has been shifted till July 5.
The trial billed to hold at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Tuesday, was put off by the trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho following the absence of the defendant in court.
The Federal Government had on March 29 arraigned the Commandant and the Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria (ITPCN) for allegedly laundering an aggregate sum of N666m obtained from extortion.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants while operating as a non-profit making organisation unlawfully engaged in the business of providing security services under a recruitment scheme which involved quasi-military training without approval.
Akoh was alleged to have obtained huge sums of money by false pretence and laundered proceeds of extortion from unsuspecting citizens of Nigeria moving same from the ITPCN account to his personal account.
Akoh pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
However, Tuesday, the court was told that the Commandant was said to have written a letter of excuse that he would not be in court to attend the trial because of his Masters degree examination at the University of Abuja.
In the letter, dated May 19, the National Commandant, who attached the examination timetable and other documents with the letter, pleaded with the court to pardon his absence and grant him an excuse to enable him to write the examination. He promised to be in attendance at the adjourned date.
However, when the matter came up, counsel to the Federal Government, Aminu Halilu, confirmed receiving the letter begging for excuse by the defendant.
He however said that the reason was not tangible enough because it was not based of ill health.
The counsel urged the court to revoke the bail granted the defendant and issue a bench warrant.
But counsel to the defendant, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), pleaded with the court to consider the action of the defendant as an opportunity that comes once in life time and which must not be toyed with.
Agabi argued that even those serving prison terms are always allowed to go for examination so as to improve themselves.
The former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), assured the court that the defendant will make himself available on the adjourned date and will never take the court for granted because he is a responsible citizen.
In his ruling, Justice Tsoho agreed with Agabi that the absence of the defendant can be pardoned because of his letter and apology offered for his absence.
The Judge said that for the defendant to have attached the examination timetable of the University of Abuja along with other vital documents is an indication to show genuineness of his reason for the absence.
Justice Tsoho therefore refused to grant the request of the prosecution for revocation of the bail earlier granted the defendant but instead asked him to always be diligent in the course of the trial.
The court subsequently adjourned till July 5 for trial.

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