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Court Awards Cost Against Defence In $2.2m Fraud Trial



Xavier Ndanyongmong


Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, Thursday, awarded a cost of N5,000 against Joseph Nwobike (SAN), counsel to former Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. Femi Thomas, for failure to appear in court.

Thomas, alongside one Kabiru Sidi, a Bureau de Change Operator, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on March 16, 2016 on a four count charge of obtaining $2.2m by false pretence.

The accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

At the resumed hearing friday, prosecuting counsel, Ayokunle Fayanju, frowned on what he described as the “bizarre tactics employed by the defence to delay the matter”.

He further expressed displeasure that the defence counsel was asking for adjournment rather than continuing with the trial.

According to him, “there was no letter of adjournment sent to me or the EFCC office that the defence counsel has another matter today. I represent the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this is not my personal case. No cogent reason or excuse has been given by the defence; yet, they are asking for an adjournment. I already have my witness in court.”

Prosecuting counsel, therefore, pleaded with the court to penalize the defence so as to forestall a repeat of the act in the future.

However, a lawyer in the team of the defence, O. Inneh, apologized on behalf of Nwobike who was said to have another criminal matter in a different court today.

Justice Saidu later adjourned the case till July 7, 2016 for continuation of trial.

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