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Alleged 2.5bn fraud: Lai’s absence in court stalls prosecution of NBC DG

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The trial of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), of Director- General Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, was stalled by the absence of Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed in court.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had filed a 12-count charge against Kawu accusing him of abuse of office and misleading the minister to approve funds for a private company.

The anti-graft agency had listed the minister as a witness to explain his role in the alleged misapplication of N2.5 billion federal government’s digital switch-over (DSO) programme.

Mohammed was expected to be in court on Wednesday but he failed to show up.

At the court, Henry Emore, counsel to ICPC, said the minister was unavoidably absent because of an “urgent national assignment”.

Emore asked the court for a new date for the minister to be invited and that Sabo Shuaibu, a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator, be subpoenaed to testify.

The judge, Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, granted the subpoena.

The judge told the prosecution to be mindful of the five adjournments allowed by the administration of the criminal justice act (ACJA), having used three already.

She also ordered the release of Kawu’s international passport to enable him to attend the World Radio-Communication Conference (WRC 19) taking place in Egypt, adding that his international passport must be returned to the court’s registry before November 30.

The judge asked the NBC DG to depose to an affidavit that his surety would be detained if he fails to show up for his trial.

The matter was adjourned till 21st October and December 3, 4 and 5 for the continuation of trial.

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