Legal Nigeria

ALLEGED N271M FRAUD: EFCC counsel’s absence stalls Omatseye’s trial

By Innocent Anaba
Lagos—
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has adjourned till October 21, 2015 for continuation of trial of the suspended Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Temisan Omatseye, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over alleged N271 million fraud.
The adjournment was due to the absence of the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr Godwin Obla, SAN, who had written to the court of hisinability to be present in court.
Trial judge in the matter is Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Obla, in the letter copied to Olushina Shofolayan, counsel to Omatseye, had stated that his wife was seriously sick in the United States of America.
Surprised at the yet-again request for adjournment from the prosecution lawyer, who was not represented by anybody from his chambers nor the EFCC, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, who noted that the court did not and had not received any request from the EFCC lawyer on the issue on ground frowned at the twist the trial was heading to.
The judge, however, granted their request while adjourning to October 21, 2015, a date, Omatseye pointed out was too long.
Obla, who opened his defense on June 1,2015, while cross examining the accused requested for an adjournment to July 1 to 2, 2015, on the ground that he needed to produce in court the NIMASA Procedural Manual which did or did not give  Omatseye the power to sign and endorse every contract document brought to his table.
Omatseye, while answering questions posed to him by the EFCC lawyer had pointed out that his signature had to be in every file document brought to him for approval.
Insisting that some documents in File PD16A before were missing, Omatseye said for a file to be complete, his signature has to be on that file, six times.
“My Lord, I had mentioned in my earlier statement that for a file to be complete, my signature must appear six times.”
Following his insistence on the missing files, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia requested that he should single out the files that were missing in the court documents, to which he mentioned that some important files that lead to the final approval and scope of the contract are not in the court file.
“My Lord, even the approval letter, the contract form which had the scope of work is not in this file before me. Also not in this file are letter from the contractor requesting for payment after the contract must have been carried out; letter minuted to the executive director (ED) Finance; letter from the Audit Department to him as the DG of Nimasa for clearance and that from the maintenance department ascertaining if it was supplied and good for payment are all not in the file my lord,” Omatseye told the court.
File Lagos
Vanguard

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