A former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, will on January 16, 2019 open his defence in the alleged N3.97 billion fraud charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Solicitors for both parties agreed on the date on Thursday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, following the failure of the defence team to enter a no case submission as was agreed on Oct. 23 when the matter came up.
Counsel to Badeh, Akin Olujimi, SAN, told the court that failure of the court’s registry staff to avail him with records of proceedings involving 22 witnesses made it impossible for the defence to file a no case submission.
“Based on our application on October 23, to make a no case submission, your lordship granted the defence and the prosecution permission to file and exchange written addresses on the no case submission.
“I must report that we had some difficulties in getting recording of proceedings of the trial from the court registry.
“The last proceeding that we got from the registry in respect to this matter was that of Oct. 27, 2016.
“That proceeding ended with PW seven and all together, we have called 22 witnesses in this matter that means there is a deficit in the production of proceedings with regard to 15 witnesses,” he said.
According to Mr Olujimi, we consider this a great handicap and so we have decided to go ahead and call evidence in response to the case made by the prosecution.
“In this regard, the defence would no longer file a no case submission, rather, proceed to defend their case.’’
The Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), however, told the court that there was no record to show that the defence had applied for the record of proceedings from the court nor filed a no case submission.
According to Jacobs, to say that non availability of records is the reason for not filing the no case submission is a rather lame excuse.
Jacobs prayed the court to call on the defence to open its case.
The trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling disagreed with the defence that the failure of the registry to make records of proceedings of the case available was responsible for them abandoning the no case submission application.
He said that it was not the fault of the registry since the defence made no application for the records to be released to them.
The judge, however, adjourned the matter till Jan. 16 and Jan. 17 for Badeh to open his defence.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Badeh was arraigned on a 14-count charge, bordering on fraud, to which he entered a “not guilty” plea to all counts.
The former defence chief is standing trial for allegedly abusing his office by diverting N3.97 billion.
The diverted money is said to have been meant for arms purchase in the face of worsening destructions by Boko Haram terrorists.
Meanwhile the judge, also adjourned the case of former PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh, till January 16 for continuation.