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Court adjourns trial of ex – Customs boss, Abdullahi Dikko, blames ICPC for stalling case

ON Monday, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja adjourned the trial of former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Abdullahi Dikko after the ex – customs boss failed to appear in court despite, a bench warrant being issued for his arrest.

Dikko who is currently being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, alongside a former Assistant Comptroller-General of the agency in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Services, Garba Makarfi, and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer and owner of Capital Law Office.

They were alleged to have induced the Managing Director of Cambial Limited, Yemi Obadeyi, to pay N1.1 billion into the account of Capital Law Office as a refundable “completion security deposit” for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.

The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu at the resumed hearing stated that despite issuing the bench warrant for the ex-Customs boss arrest in February, the prosecuting team had failed to collect it.

“Usually, the next thing they do before I leave at 4 or 5 pm, they bring those warrant for my endorsement. I have endorsed the warrant but you have never come for it. Is that not the position? So, you know you  are not serious,” she said.

In February, Justice Ojukwu had issued a warrant for Dikko’s arrest for his continued absence in court. His lawyer, Solomon Akuma, had presented a medical report to the court saying Dikko was critically ill and on admission at a London hospital.

In a twist of events, Justice Ojukwu said the address on the medical report contradicted his claim that he was in a London hospital as the address on the medical report was No 6 Ahmed Musa Crescent Jabi, Abuja.

However, she asked the prosecution team to set aside the arrest warrant if they discover that the ex-custom boss was in a London hospital else he should be arrested and brought to court on March 16.

The warrant for Dikko’s arrest had still not been collected from Justice Ojukwu by the ICPC’s prosecuting team.

The prosecuting counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle said Dikko had travelled out of the country when the bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

“We confirmed that the first defendant left Nigeria February 14, three days before the sitting of the court.  His destination was Dubai, currently he is reportedly in London,” he said.

He pleaded with the court to extend the duration of the bench warrant and sought a further date for the arraignment.

“I am not adjourning this matter for the sake of it. If you are not interested in it, let me discharge it. Whenever you are ready to prosecute the first defendant we will re-arraign him,” Justice Ojukwu said.

The case was adjourned and slated for hearing on May 3. In a phone interview with Okoduwa Rashidat, spokesperson for the ICPC, when asked why the ICPC was yet to collect the warrant of arrest from the court she disclosed to The ICIR that she wasn’t aware of the details of the case and won’t be able to respond until she is briefed by the lawyers.

“I am not aware of the current information on that case because I am just hearing that information from you which is one – sided until I am briefed by our lawyers I won’t be able to respond but ordinarily if we are not serious about prosecuting the case then we won’t be in court,” she said.

 

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