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Judge refuses bid to discharge Borishade in N5.2b scam trial

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THE Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Maitama, Abuja, has refused to stop further hearing on a suit filed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a former Minister of Aviation, Babalola Borishade and four others who appeared before Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar yesterday.

The matter, which was slated for Wednesday, February 3, 2016, could not hold as planned as the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) requested for a brief on the case by the EFCC since the matter had been on for years in court.

The EFCC furnished the office of the AGF with the brief of the case and the proceedings that has over the years transpired on the matter.

Justice Umar, while ruling on the application yesterday, stated that withdrawal from a case by a lawyer from a private firm does not constitute abandonment or lack of appearance of the prosecution.

Consequently, the judge ruled that the application by counsel to the defendants to foreclose or discharge the defendants is refused and ordered the prosecution to continue its case.

Chile Okoroma, counsel to EFCC, afterwards, presented PW 10, Reuben Omosigho, who is an operative with the Economic Governance Unit of the EFCC.

Counsel to the first defendant, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, however raised an objection against the evidence of the PW 10, saying the witness was already on record and needed no duplication but cross-examination. The court sustained his objection.

Ogunwumiju, who rather than cross-examine the witness, prayed the court for a short adjournment, saying their application to be furnished with the court’s records was still pending.

He said: “We cannot afford to take chances with our own records; we need to be guided by the court.”

Okoroma, who strongly opposed the application, argued that “there is no law that states that cross-examination of a witness is dependent on the defence obtaining court records.”

However, counsel to the fourth and fifth defendants, R. Okotie Eboh, however, argued that “the adjournment being sought for is not ill-conceived, but necessary for us to get our facts right.”

Justice Umar adjourned the matter till March 7, 2016 for continuation of trial.

It would be recalled that Ogunwumiju and Okotie-Eboh had earlier prayed the court to strike out the case for lack of diligence on the part of the prosecution, which was strongly opposed by the prosecuting witness.

Borishade, his former personal assistant, Tunde Dairo and two others were alleged to have mismanaged a N5.2 billion aviation safe tower contract.

Others on trial for the alleged offence are former Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Rowland Iyayi; an Australian, George Eider and Avsatel Communications Ltd.