By Kenneth Atavti
High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in Jabi, Abuja on Monday adjourned the trial of a former board chairperson of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme.
Olejeme is accused of mismanaging N1.3 billion while in office.
The trial was adjourned at the request of Olejeme’s lawyer, Paul Erokoro, SAN.
Before the adjournment, the prosecutor, Steve Odiase, informed the court of a letter from the counsel to the former NSITF chairperson requesting an adjournment.
In the letter dated May 24,2022 Mr. Odiase explained to the court that the defendant’s lawyer had a pending court hearing at the Court of Appeal in Calabar, which was the reason for the request.
“My lord, the matter is slated for the continuation of trial but we are constrained by a letter seeking adjournment sent in by the counsel of the defendant. The letter is dated May 24, 2022.
“His reason is based on a hearing notice at the Court of Appeal division in Calabar and he attached a hearing notice to the said letter,” the prosecutor said.
Citing a provision of the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the prosecutor said a defendant facing corruption charges has three opportunities to seek adjournment subject to the convenience of the court and that of the prosecutor.
He, therefore, noted that the prosecution team would not be objecting to the application “even though our witnesses are in court.”
“Subject to the convenience of the court, we apply to take 27 June 2022, for adjournment as suggested by the learned counsel to the defendant.”
The judge, thereafter, adjourned the matter till June 27, 2022, for the continuation of the trial.
In October 2021, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Olejeme before Maryam Aliyu, the judge of the court.
The former NSITF boss was arraigned on a nine-count charge bordering on diversion of public funds and money laundering to the tune of N1.3 billion.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the last hearing of the trial on March 28,2022 the judge had also adjourned after Erokoro informed of his client’s illness and asked for an adjournment.
Erokoro said then that he could not present a medical report as the hospital was still reviewing her case.
Earlier in July 2020, the Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the interim forfeiture of 48 properties allegedly owned by Ms Olejeme.