A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday was not able to proceed on the ongoing trial of the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu owing to the absence of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) is prosecuting Kawu over alleged abuse of office and laundering of N2.5 billion.
The minister was slated to be in court on Wednesday as a prosecution witness to explain the role he played in the alleged misapplication of N2.5 billion funds meant for the federal government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) programme.
The ICPC stated this in a statement it made available to newsmen on Wednesday. It said at the court hearing, counsel to the commission, Henry Emore informed the court that the minister was absent because of an “urgent national assignment”.
The statement said following the development, that Emore prayed the court to subpoena a second witness, a Bureau de Change operator, Sabo Shuaibu, who had ”repeatedly failed to attend court despite numerous invitations put to him”.
The judge was said to have granted the subpoena and asked the prosecution counsel to be mindful of the five adjournments allowed by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, ”having used up three already”.
ICPC in a 12-count charge before the court and filled in February is accusing Mr Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, the chairman and chief operating officer of Pinnacle Communications Limited respectively, of misappropriating N2.5 billion.
The ICPC had added that Mr Kawu deceived Mohammed to sign the deal.
Meanwhile, the minister had since April, admitted that he did not follow due diligence before signing off on the project.
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