By Executive Editor, Judiciary.
A judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Justice Ambrose Lewis Allagoa on Friday last week threatened to close the prosecution’s case in the trial of Mr Kenneth Amadi who is being prosecuted by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over an alleged N2.9 billion fraud.
The judge in a tone suggestive of an unequivocal finality told the prosecuting team that if by the next adjourned date it fails to produce its remaining witnesses in court, he would be forced to evoke the relevant rules of court to close its case.
“If by the next adjourned date the prosecution fail to bring their witnesses for the proceedings to continue unhindered, I would not hesitate to close their case”, Justice Allagoa said.
Justice Allagoa gave the hint when the matter was called for continuation of trial and the prosecution told the court that they could not proceed with the trial slated for Friday February 18, due to their inability to bring any of their witnesses.
Naham Damar who appeared for the prosecution in the absence of lead counsel Aderonke Imana, told the court that the lead counsel was unable to attend court session due to another official duty she was assigned to attend, and moreover the next witness, the IPO was not available. She said that in such circumstance, she would be asking for an adjournment.
Responding, defence counsel, Dr Monday Ubani who appeared with O. J. Akinwale for the defendant, in his submission opposed the prosecution’s request for adjournment. He told Justice Allagoa that the defendant is desirous of concluding the matter in order to go on with his life. He therefore urged the court to ensure that if the prosecution is not ready to proceed by next adjourned date, the court should close the prosecution case and allow the defendant to open it’s defence.
“My lord, recall that at last proceedings, the prosecution promised to bring the witness today and now the witness is not here, contrary to the agreement reached.
“I am opposing the request for adjournment. If prosecution are not ready to continue, let them close their case.”I want the matter to go on today, but my lord has his discretion” , Ubani submitted.
He reminded the court that there is a director who wrote the petition, stressing that if the IPO is not available, the director as the next witness should be called.
“There is a director who raised the petition against the defendant, if the IPO is not yet available, let them call the next witness who raised the petition.
Following the submission of defence counsel, Justice Allagoa in open court said yes it was agreed at last proceeding that prosecution should bring their witness, however according to counsel, the witness is outside for official duty.
He said the trial could have continued if any of the witnesses was in court even without the lead counsel because she is ably represented by a counsel. But because the witness was not available, he would grant the request for adjournment.
He however agreed with defence counsel’s submission for an undertaking by the prosecution to endeavour to bring all their witnesses at next the adjourned date, otherwise it would be assumed they have closed their case.
Granting the request for adjournment, Justice Allagoa told counsel representing the AGF that if by next adjourned date of March 24th and 25th, they refused to bring their witnesses for the matter to continue, he would close their case.
Recall that since the commencement of the trial, the prosecution has brought two supposedly key witnesses. At the last proceeding on January 20, the second prosecution witness and accountant with Eunisell Ltd, Mr Philip Enejo Odekina had under cross examination by Dr Ubani stated in open court that the defendant Kenneth Amadi did not defraud Eunisell Ltd as alleged in the N2.9 billion fraud.
The last proceeding’s cross-examination by the defence counsel is hereby reproduced for better understanding:
Ubani: Are you saying that the defendant squandered the N2.9 billion as you claimed?
Philip Odekina: He didn’t steal the N2.9 billion.
Ubani: Was Kenneth Amadi owing Eunisell any money?
Philip Odekina: It was the customer that was owing N103 million and not the 1st defendant.
Ubani: From your own testimony, this money was never stolen?
Philip Odekina: 1st defendant did not steal the money, it was AZ that was owing Eunisell.
Ubani: Finally, eventually after reconciliation, he did not steal any of your money, Yes or No?
Philip Odekina: Yes.
WORDS ON MARBLE: “If you really want to know a man, give him power. The evil man will become proud and disastrous, but the good man will become more humble than he was before”. ………Aristotle.