The scheduled arraignment of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ahmed Saleh, along with two other officials of the apex court on charges relating to fraud and receiving gratification was stalled before a Jabi Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday.
The trial judge, Justice Abba Mohammed, had to adjourn the arraignment till December 15 following the absence of the second defendant, Mr. Muhammed Sharif, whom his lawyer, Mr. Garba Tetengi (SAN), said was indisposed and on admission at the hospital.
The Federal Government had on November 3, 2016 charged Saleh alongside Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal with nine counts, including diversion of N2.2bn belonging to the apex court.
They were also accused of receiving gratifications totalling N74.4m from private contractors providing services to the Supreme Court between 2009 and 2016.
The Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Umar, appeared for the prosecution but handed over to Mr. Charles Adeogun-Philips, who will be leading the Federal Government’ team in subsequent proceedings.
The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, shows that Adeogun-Philips born in England 50 years ago, is a former genocide and war crime prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
The DPPF announced in court on Thursday that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, evoked his power under section 174(1) of the Constitution to hand over the prosecution of the case to the international lawyer.
Apart from Sharif, the other two accused were in court.
All the three accused, including Sharif who was absent, were represented by lawyers.
The Chief Registrar of the apex court was represented by Mr. Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) while Lawal was represented by Mr. I.K Sanusi (SAN).
Announcing his client’s absence, Sharif’s lawyer, Tentengi said the defendant was on admission at a hospital and therefore pleaded with the judge to adjourn the case.
Though, Adeogun-Philips expressed reservation about the failure of the defence lawyer to make available any document to show that the defendant was on hospital admission, the judge said the arraignment could not hold since all the accused were jointly charged.
Justice Mohammed adjourned the case till December 15.
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