By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Justice Mikailu Abdullahi of a Niger State High Court, sitting in Minna, has adjourned the trial of a former governor of the state, Babangida Aliyu and two others standing trial for an alleged N2 billion fraud to October 7, 8 and 9, 2019 for continuation of trial.
Aliyu is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko and the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Niger State Chapter, Tanko Beji, on a seven-count amended charge bordering on criminal breach of trust.
It will be recalled that at the last sitting, the defence counsels were expected to cross-examine the first prosecution witness, PW1, Bala Muhammad on June 19, 2019. However, they were absent in court, thus stalling the day’s proceeding, and prompting the trial judge to adjourn to September 10, 2019.
But, in adjourning the case, Justice Abdullahi warned that if the counsels for the defence again failed to be present, the court will be persuaded to discharge the witness and continue with the trial.
At the resumed sitting today, counsels for the defence were present, prompting counsel for the EFCC, Boniface Bassey, to tell the court that the matter was slated for cross-examination of Muhammad.
Counsel for the first defendant, Olajide Ayodele, SAN, and counsel for the second defendant, Ibrahim Isiyaku, SAN, both cross-examined the witness. During cross-examination, there was however, an application for a stand down, to allow the witness present memos and payment vouchers for identification purpose.
When the court session resumed, Muhammad presented to the court, the memos and payment vouchers with dates and payment voucher number signed by the then Chief of Staff, Government House, Yusuf Garba Tagwai. After the presentation of the memos and payment vouchers, the trial judge adjourned the case to October 7, 8 and 9, 2019 for “continuation of cross-examination and trial”.