The absence of a businessman and former boss of Kwara Hotels, Mohammed Gobir on Monday stalled his trial at an Ikeja High Court for allegedly defrauding the Kwara Government of N277 million.
At the hearing of the matter, Counsel to Gobir, Mr Y. A Bayero, told the court that the defendant was absent due to his mother’s ill health.
He said, “Yesterday the first defendant called me that his mother who had been in a coma for two months had gotten worse and he had to rush her from a private hospital to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. I don’t want to believe the information that was passed to me this morning that his mother has died.
“I want to urge this honourable court to kindly indulge us with an adjournment in view of the facts just stated”.
The counsel also brought to the court’s attention that it was the first time that Gobir will be absent from his criminal trial.
But in his response, prosecuting counsel to the EFCC, Mr F. Ofoma, opposed the defence’s request for an adjournment.
Ofoma said their third prosecution witness, Mrs Funmilola Adejulu was in court and that the anti-graft agency had to make a formal application to ensure she came to court to be cross-examined by the defence.
“We are just hearing the reason why the defendant is not in court, I don’t know when else our witness will be available,” the EFCC prosecutor said.
However, after listening to the parties’ submissions, Justice Oyefeso granted the request of the defence by adjourning the case.
The judge said: “I will grant the adjournment because this is the first time the defendant will be absent in court. This case is adjourned till Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and 6 for continuation of trial”.
Gobir, an indigene of Kwara State, and his company Mondial Defence Systems Ltd., are facing a five-count charge of stealing and forgery, slammed against them by the EFCC.
According to Mrs Zainab Ettu, the lead EFCC prosecutor, the offences were committed between November 2012 and January 2014 in Ikeja area of Lagos State.
Ettu said: “In November 2012, the defendants dishonestly converted to their use the N92.3 million, property of the Kwara State Government.
“Sometime in 2013, the defendants dishonestly converted N184 million, also belonging to the Kwara State Government. The monies were collected under the guise of supplying three units of APCs to the Kwara State Government but the APCs were never supplied.
“The defendants forged three documents, the first on Oct. 10, 2013 titled Letter of Award of Contract with reference number – S/GS/157/7/123. The second was on Dec. 28, 2013 a letter titled Letter of Award of Contract with reference number S/GS/157/VII/535.
“The third was on Jan. 17, 2014 titled Letter of Intent with reference number: S/GS/157/T/15. The three letters were purportedly from the Office of the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, in relation to the bogus contracts.”
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