Udoka Obidike, Abuja
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on Tuesday could not commence trial of former Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe and two others before the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama over a five count charge of criminal diversion of about N2bn meant for the dualisation of Section IV of the East West Road owing to absence of the ex-minister.
Orubebe, according to his counsel, Mr F Zimhuan who represented in court, was said to be ill.
Zimhuan said the ex-minister’s health complicated his hypertensive condition.
The lawyer said, “The first defendant is in the hospital.
“His absence in court today is not deliberate. He suddenly took ill. He had domestic accident affecting his ankle and wrist. He is hypertensive and the cumulative effect was that they had to rush him to the hospital.
“We want to give the assurance that the first accused will be ready to face his trial anytime he is discharged from the hospital and we pray that it won’t be long from today.”
Although other accused persons were present in court, the trial high court judge, Justice Oluwakayode Adeniyi could not arraign them, being a joint trial.
Orubebe’s lawyer, Mr. F. Zimhuan, however apologised to the trial judge, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, for the absence of his client, whom he said suddenly took ill after a domestic accident and rushed to the hospital.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, had preferred five counts against Orubebe alongside Oludare Alaba, Ephraim Zeri (Director of Contracts) and Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited.
Alaba and Zeri were present in court while Orubebe was absent on Tuesday.
But all the defendants including Orubebe were represented by their lawyers.
Mr. K.B Asunogie represented Alaba while Chief Kanu Agabi represented Zeri and Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited.