Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday, adjourned till November 20, 2018 for Muhammed Dele Belgore, SAN, and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, a former minister for National Planning, to open their defence in a N450m fraud trial.
Belgore, a governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election, and Sulaiman are standing trial for allegedly receiving the sum of N450 million on March 27, 2015 out of the $115,010,000 paid into Fidelity Bank Plc by a former minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezanni Allison-Madueke.
At the sitting on Tuesday, counsel to the first defendant, Ebun Shofunde, SAN, had sought an adjournment of the trial in order to serve the subpoena issued by the court on the Manager, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ilorin Branch, in preparation for opening of defence by the defendant.
However, the prosecution, in its response, had objected to the adjournment sought by the defence, stressing that it was a ploy to stall the ongoing trial. The prosecution had also undertaken to serve the subpoena on the branch manager so that the trial could continue today without further delay.
At the resumed hearing today, the prosecution counsel, Nnemeka Omewa, informed the court that the Bank Manager had been served with the subpoena. Omewa further told the court that the manager was present in court with the videotapes, adding that a means of playing the videotape had also been provided in line with a request by the defendants to open their defence.
However, Shofunde told the court that although the prosecution had provided the video tape as well as a means of playing it, the manager was not with the certificate required before the tape could be used. He, therefore, sought an adjournment of the trial.
In view of this, the prosecution counsel requested for a stand down to enable the parties go to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank to get the required certificate rather than asking for an adjournment. Counsel to the second defendant also asked for an adjournment on the grounds that the document was generated from a computer in Ilorin, Kara State.
“My Lord, it is only from that branch where it was generated that the certification could emanate from,” he added. He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the case so that the certification could be in the documents of the court.
Consequently, Justice Aikawa adjourned the case to November 20, 2018 for the defence to open its case.