The trial of former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) took a dramatic turn on Monday, as the prosecution counsel failed to produce witnesses against the ex-minister.
The Federal Government, this morning, docked the erstwhile Minister of Niger Delta Affairs before the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja on a four-count criminal charge bordering on money laundering and alleged bribery to the tune of N70milion.
The Justice Danladi Umar-led panel however berated the Federal Government for not producing witnesses against Orubebe.
After Orubebe pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against him, the counsel to the prosecution, Ibrahim Usman, told the court, that he would like to request an adjournment since his witnesses were not in court.
The defence counsel, Selekeowe Larry, asked the tribunal to demand a statement of necessary evidences, according to rule 5 subsection 1, of the rules of the tribunal.
The tribunal judge, Umar Danladi, however, said the matter yearning for determination at the court was not for the prosecution counsel to state the evidence but for them to produce the said witnesses to do so.
He frowned at the inability of Mr. Usman and his team to produce the witnesses.
Mr. Danladi ruled that the matter be adjourned till 26 November for a definite hearing. But before adjourning the case, the Justice Danladi Umar-led panel, berated FG for not producing witnesses against Orubebe today.
According to Justice Danladi, “I am not happy that the witnesses are not here today. The prosecution had ample time to assemble its witnesses but failed to do so. I want you to take this case very serious.
“The purpose of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act is to treat criminal matter of this nature with dispatch. We don’t need to be coming here to adjourn this matter indefinitely or unnecessarily. When you come here, you must come for business”, Justice Danladi added.
Orubebe mounted the accused box at exactly 10: 50am, after which he pleaded not guilty to the charge which was read to him by clerk of the CCT.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Musa Ibrahim Usman, told the tribunal that his witnesses were not available, even as he applied for two weeks adjournment to enable him to assemble them.
His application infuriated the defence counsel, Mr. Larry Selekeowei, SAN, who accused FG of not being serious with the prosecution of the case.
“My lords we are really surprised that they are not ready to proceed today despite all the noise and heavy weather they have made for the past 10 days. On our part, we are ready for the trial”, he added.
Besides, he applied that the accused person be granted bail on self recognition, a request that was granted by the tribunal.
The charge against Orubebe, read: “That you, Godsday Peter Orubebe, while being a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Niger Delta Affairs, on or about June 29th 2011 did make a false declaration in your asset declaration form by failing to declare plot 2722 Kyamu District Abuja on assumption of office on 26th September 2007 and on leaving office (at the end of your tenure), on June 29, 2011 and you thereby committed an offence under section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap C15 and as incorporated under paragraph 11(1) & (2) of Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the Constitution and punishable under section 23(2) of the CCB & T Act.
“That you Godsday Peter Orubebe, while being a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, on or about June 29, 2011 did make a false declaration in your asset declaration form by failing to declare plot 2059 Asokoro district, Abuja on assumption of office on September 26, 2007 and on June 29, 2011 and you thereby committed an offence under section 15 of the CCB & T Act, and punishable under section 23 (2) of the CCB & T Act.
“That you Godsday Peter Orubebe while being a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on or about September 19, 2012 asked for and accepted the sum of fifty million naira from one Pastor (Dr) Jonathan Alota, as bribe for the contract awarded in favour of his company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 10 of the CCB & T Act, and punishable under Section 23 (2) of CCB & T Act.
“That you Godsday Orubebe, while being a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, on or about 2013 asked for and accepted the sum of twenty million naira from one Pastor (Dr.) Jonathan Alota as additional bribe for the contract awarded in favour of his company Chemtronics Nigeria Limited for the construction of skill acquisition Centre at Edo State for the sum of one billion seven hundred and ninety nine million, nine hundred and fourteen thousand two hundred and fifty naira eighty eight kobo only (₦ 1,799,914,251.88K) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 of CCB & T Act”.
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