Alleged CBN N3bn agric loan diversion: Absence of defense counsel stalls trial of ‘whistleblower’

THE absence of defense counsel to former  General Manager of Radio Bayelsa John Idumange, who raised the alarm over alleged diversion of N3 billion agric loan by government officials, was on Thursday stalled at a Bayelsa high court.

When the case was called up for hearing, the prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Bayelsa Iyobosa Apulu, noted that the bench warrant issued on the defendant, Idumange, ought to be issued against his surety.

She urged the court to issue another bench warrant on Idumange’s surety to produce the defendant in court.

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“We do not know the whereabouts of the defendant who was previously on bail before the case was transfered to this court, but his surety can be traced and that is why we want the bench warrant be issued against the surety to prevail on him to produce the defendant in court,” Iyobosa said.

The court had, on July 19, issued a bench warrant authorising the arrest of a Idumange, whose counsel Ebikebuna Aluzu, had informed the court that the defendant was involved in an accident and was hospitalised.

Justice Iniekenimi Uzakah subsequently adjourned the matter until September 10.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Bayelsa Biriyai Sambo (SAN) had filed a suit against Idumange for misdemeanour and seditious publications against government officials.

A magistrate court had, on March 11 in Yenagoa, ordered Idumange’s detention for 30 days pending Police investigation.

    Idumange, who alleged that officials of the Bayelsa government diverted a N3 billion agric loan and subsequently submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was arrested on March 10.

    Some officials of the Bayelsa government had reported to the Police that Idumange had made seditious publications that maligned their persons in his claims.

    However, the Bayelsa High Court, Sagbama Division, granted bail to Idumange, who was also an aide on research and documentation and later social media to former Gov. Seriake Dickson.

    The case earlier assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro was reassigned to Justice Uzakah.

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