The planned arraignment of Timipre Sylva, former governor of Bayelsa State and six other persons before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was again stalled on Thursday.
Sylva and other three accused persons and their companies Francis Okokuro, Gbenga S. Balogun, Samuel Ogbuku, Marlin Maritime Limited, Eat Catering Services Limited and Haloween – Blue Construction and Logistics Limited, were to be docked on an amended 42-count charge of misappropriation of fund and money laundering.
When the matter was called, prosecuting counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi who stood in for Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed the court that he was ready for the arraignment of the accused persons and that he also wish to apply for a bench warrant against the second and the forth accused persons who were absent in court without cogent reason.
However, counsel to the first accused, O.I Olorundare SAN, told the court that there were multiple motions pending before the court which included one challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the competence of Rotimi Jacobs Chambers to appear for the complainant. He urged the court to discountenance the application of the prosecuting counsel.
Counsel to the second accused, James Odiba aligned himself with the submission of Olorundare but pleaded with the court that his client was unavoidably absent because of ill health.
Ochu Chukwuma, counsel to the third accused urged the court to decide on the various applications pending before it.
Counsel to the forth accused, Ajayi Olowo also informed the court that his client was unavoidably absent as he had another criminal matter to attend to in Bayelsa State. He also aligned himself with the submission of Olorundare.
In response, Adeniyi said the applications of the defence counsel were unjustifiable, provocative and unwarranted. He said the fact that there were preliminary objection was not a reason for the absence of two of the accused persons.
Justice Mohammed upheld Adeniyi’s argument. He stated that the presence of accused persons in court is not a matter of contention and that accused persons must always be in court notwithstanding any pending motions before the court.
He ordered that the accused persons be issued criminal summons and adjourned the case to October 8, 2014 for hearing of all pending applications.