The trial of Dr Sani Shuaibu and 33 others accused of stealing N12 billion pension fund was stalled at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
Shuaibu, a former Director of Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, led the other accused to object to the commencement of the trial.
They argued that the EFCC had yet to serve them with the proof of evidence.
Mr Samson Ameh (SAN), counsel to Shuaibu, prayed the court to bar the trial pending when the proof of evidence was served on his client.
“My Lord, for the interest of justice, the rules compel the prosecutor to serve the accused persons with the proof of evidence. It is with this that they can defend themselves.
“We are suggesting that the matter be adjourned to such a date that the prosecutor would find it convenient to serve the accused persons.’’
Chief Godwin Obla, counsel to EFCC, countered the submissions. He said that most of the accused persons had been served with the proof of evidence.
He urged the court not to stop the trial on the basis of non-service of proof of evidence, adding that the
Obla submitted that the accused persons were not well disposed to opening the trial and that the charges sufficiently linked the accused to the allegation.
He explained that the prosecution was bent on the accelerated trial of the case in view of the importance of the suit to ordinary pensioners.
Obla said the prosecutor brought representatives of 16 banks as witnesses to tender documents that would assist in the trial.
“My Lord, our efforts at ensuring speedy prosecution of the accused should not be hampered by an allegation of non-service of proof of evidence.
“More than half of the accused have been served and we have promised to serve the rest immediately after today’s proceeding. ’’
Justice Adamu Bello, however, directed that all the accused must be served with the proof of evidence.
“It is unfortunate that the trial cannot be opened today because whatever we do right or wrong here would be challenged at a superior court.
“So, let us try and do the right thing as this will vindicate the court. ’’
He adjourned the case to June 25 and July 2 for trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Phina Chidi, Deputy Director (Finance and Accounts) and Aliyu Bello, Personal Assistant to Shuaibu, are among the accused.