From Saka Bolaji, Minna
The absence in court today (Monday) of Mr. Mammam Usman (SAN,) counsel to the third respondent, Umar Mohammed Nasko, in the case between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu and two others stalled the commencement of the trial in Minna, the Niger State capital city.
A Minna High Court Judge, Aliyu Maiyaki, had last June fixed today for the commencement of the trial Aliyu, his ex-Chief of Staff, Umar Mohammed Nasko, and the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tanko Beji.
The trio were brought before the court by the EFCC over alleged corrupt practices while Aliyu was governor of the state.
However when the case resumed on Monday the court was told that the lead counsel to the third defendant, Usman (SAN) was indisposed and receiving treatment in a United Kingdom (UK) hospital.
Sam D Ada who held the brief of the counsel urged the court to adjourn the case till October 30 when it was expected that Usman would be available to defend his client.
“This is the first time that the defence is asking for an adjournment. We urge the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the counsel” Sam Ada said.
Mr Olajide Ayodele (SAN) concurred with the counsel saying: “We cannot oppose the application. We agree that the case should be adjourned to 30th October 2017″.
Ibrahim Ishyaku (SAN), holding the brief of the second defendant Tanko Beji also said ” we are not objecting except perhaps for the date”.
Ibrahim Ishyaku said the first date picked – October 8 – was not convenient because some of the counsel would either be at the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal.
However counsel to the EFCC, Mr Chidi Okoroma, opposed the application for adjournment saying that the defendant had a team of counsel from which he could pick in the event that the lead counsel was not available.
” Any person can take up the trial, that is the beauty of appearing in teams, legal business has moved from where they thought,” Okoroma said.
In his ruling Judge Maiyaki said it was in the interest of justice to grant the application because the defendant deserved to pick a counsel of his choice.
He therefore granted the application and adjourned the trial to October 30, 2017.