THE trial of a property developer, Mr Cecil Osakwe, before a Federal High Court, Abuja, was, on Wednesday, stalled following the absence of the defendant and his lawyer in court.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had filed a two-count charge bordering on electricity theft against Osakwe
While the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, is the complainant, Osakwe is the defendant in the case.
Upon resumed hearing, FG’s lawyer, Ali Baba, informed Justice Binta Nyako that the matter was adjourned for hearing and he was ready to.proceed.
However, neither Osakwe not his lawyer was in court.
“The defendant is not here and I am surprised they are not here,” Baba said.
Justice Nyako asked if the defence was aware of today’s proceeding and the lawyer responded in affirmative.
The judge, who asked Baba how the information for today’s hearing was communicated to the defence, said she did not have the evidence of the hearing notice in the court records.
She wondered how the hearing could proceed when the defendant and his counsel were not in court.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until Jan. 25, 2024 for continuation of hearing, directed that the defendant and his lawyer be put on notice through issuance of hearing notices to the effect.
NAN recalls that Osakwe was, on March 13, arraigned before the court.
When the charge was read to him, he pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail by the court.
Justice Nyako granted him bail in the sum of N1 million with a warning that under no circumstances should he miss the trial.
She threatened to revoke his bail, if he failed to show up for the trial.
The prosecutor, Mr Baba, an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Justice, described the decision of the court as a welcome development.
He said the prosecution of the defendant would serve as deterrent for others.
Osakwe had through his counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, told the court that he had a motion for a stay of the arraignment of his client
He drew the attention of the court to a pending suit challenging the legality of the panel that investigated his client and appealed to the court for stay proceedings
But the court overruled him and asked that the charge be read to the defendant.
In the charge, Osakwe was said to have tampered with electricity metre which resulted in the loss of N11 million revenue to the Federal Government.(NAN)
NOVEMBER 1, 2023 @ 17:53 GMT|