Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, rejected prosecution’s request to commence the trial of a member of the presidential committee investigating procurement of arms and equipment in the Armed Forces, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed.
The trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, cited the alleged refusal of the Department of State Services to comply with an order of court with respect to the case.
Justice Tsoho declined to commence the scheduled trial on the grounds that the prosecution had refused to comply with his order granting bail to the defendant.
The Federal Government had in September 2016, arraigned Mohammed alongside a company, Easy Jet Integrated Services Limited, before Justice Tsoho.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the four counts with suit number, FHC/ABJ/CR/145/16.
The judge had granted Mohammed bail and ordered among others, that he should be remanded in prison custody until he was able to meet the bail conditions.
On Monday, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Labaran Magaji, informed the court that he was ready to open trial by calling his first witness.
But the defence lawyer, Hassan Liman (SAN), raised an objection to the commencement of trial on the basis that the prosecution had failed to comply with the court’s previous order.
He said his client was still being held in DSS custody despite the court order directing otherwise.
Liman said the prosecution did not transfer the defendant to prison as ordered by the court and had also refused to release him even after meeting the bail conditions.
Reacting, Justice Tsoho said he would decline to commence the trial when his earlier orders had not been complied with.
He adjourned till December 19 for the prosecution to comply with the court order.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja had earlier granted Umar bail in the sum of N100m, with two sureties at N50m each, but the order was not complied with by the DSS.
Mohammed and his company are charged with money laundering, illegal possession of firearms and violation of Official Secret Act.
They were said to have accepted $1,030,000 in cash from a firm, Worldwide Consortium PTY Ltd. “as payment for flight services without going through a financial institution as required by law.”
They are said to have committed the offence of money laundering contrary to sections 18 (a) and 16(1)(d) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.
Mohammed is accused of being in illegal possession of two pump action guns (marked: SBSG Magnum 397 and SBGS Interpress 09-1573) between June 1, 2011 and June 19, 2016 without valid licences and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Firearms Act 2004 and punishable under Section 27(1)(b)(i) of the act.
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