Ishaq Modibbo Kawu
By Our Reporter
The alleged corruption case against the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) suffered a setback as it closed its case without producing the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to testify against NBC boss as promised.
Kawu is standing trial for alleged abuse of office in the payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communication Ltd for the Digital Switch over project .
The ICPC in February filed a 12-count charge before a judge, Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, against Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa, and Dipo Onifade, the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Pinnacle Communications Limited respectively, for allegedly misappropriating N2.5 billion.
On October 21, Justice Ogunbanjo- Giwa had threatened to close the case against the defendants if the ICPC fails to produce the Information Minister and a subpoenaed bureau de change operator in court as witness on December 3.
Despite the ICPC failing to produce Lia Mohammed to testify in court, a statement he made to the agency, tendered in court, indicated that he gave the approval for the release of N2.5 billion to the NBC, as seed grant for the Digital Switch Over project of the federal government.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the prosecution counsel, Henry Emoreh, informed the court that though the case was for continuation of trial, however, “we intend to close the case of the prosecution and we are not calling any more witnesses”.
Reacting to the sudden decision of the prosecution to close its case, Mr Kawu’s lawyer, Akeem Mustapha, said he would not be calling any witness.
Mr Mustapha said pursuant to section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, he would be asking for the maximum 14 days to file the first defendant’s no-case-submission.
On his part, the lawyer to the second and third defendant, Alex Iziyon, said he would also not be calling any witness, and therefore requested for the maximum 14 days period allowed by ACJA to file a no-case-submission.
The fourth defendant’s lawyer, Amah Etuwewe, applied for the maximum 14 days to file a no-case-submission.
The prosecution lawyer told the court that he needed 21 days to reply to all the proposed applications for no-case-submissions of the defendants.
Similarly, the defendants informed the court that they would need 7 days to reply on points of law.
In a short ruling, Justice Ogunbanjo- Giwa noted that it would take 42 days for counsel to file and exchange processes in respect of the application for no-case-submissions.
The court adjourned the matter to January 30, 2020, for adoption.
Meanwhile, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa granted leave to Messrs Omoluwa and Onifade to travel abroad for an international conference.
The court ordered the registrar of the Federal High Court to release the international passports of the defendants to enable them to embark on the trip abroad.
The judge said the defendants’ passports must be returned to the court on January 24, 2020.