By Joy Baba
Justice A A Okeke, of the Federal High Court, Lafia, Nasarawa State today expressed her displeasure over the spate of requests for adjournments in the ongoing trial of Aliyu Akwe Doma, former governor of Nasarawa State and two others – Timothy Anthony Anjide, former secretary to the state government and Dauda A S Egwa, former accountant general of the state.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Justice Okeke stated that since she inherited the matter in 2012 progress has not been made because of one application or the other brought by the defence.
A statement signed by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said Okeke stated this after counsel to the second accused, Olalekan Ojo, informed the court that his client, Timothy Anthony, sent a letter from the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital to the effect that he was ill and could not appear in court.
He therefore, applied that the matter be adjourned while apologizing to the prosecution and to the court for the inconvenience.
The statement said the Prosecuting Counsel, Kemi Phinhero (SAN) expressed displeasure at the development which he described as discourteous noting that Rules 6b of the practice direction of the Federal High Court 2013 states that the court and it’s parties must prevent unwarranted and unnecessary delays and that no application shall be attended to on the day fixed for trial.
According to the statement, “Phinhero further told the court that being a date fixed for hearing, it is not automatic that the court will concede to an adjournment. He also stated that the letter only excludes the second accused for today.
“Consequently, there is no legal or factual wisdom on vacating the other dates fixed (April 1 & 2). If he is unable to come tomorrow, we will know what to do when we get through to the bridge”.
The statement further said the EFCC counsel reminded the court that the defence has exhausted the number of applications for adjournment permissible under the practice direction of the Federal High Court.
Justice Okeke said it was disrespectful to the court that counsel had the imprudence to bring a letter on a date fixed for trial but reluctantly adjourned the matter to April 1 and advised the defence to ensure that the accused is in court.
“Aliyu Akwe Doma and two others are standing trial on an amended 10-count charge of money laundering to the tune of over 7billion naira” the statement also said.