By Seriki Adinoyi
The trial of a former Governor of Plateau State, Air Commodore Jonah Jang (rtd) for an alleged misappropriation of public fund amounting to N6.3billion was stalled yesterday due to the absence of the lead prosecution counsel from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).
Jang is standing trial alongside a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Mr. Yusuf Pam.
Accused by the anti-graft agency of committing the alleged offences towards the end of his tenure as governor in 2015, the duo were first arraigned in 2018. But they pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Yesterday’s hearing of the case was to enable the EFCC to present its witnesses in continuation of the case which began afresh in 2020 following the retirement of a former judge, Justice Daniel Longji who was handling the case.
But when the trial resumed yesterday, Oluwatosin Meseh announced his appearance for Jacobs and pleaded with the court not to go ahead with the case .
According to him, Jacobs had received several notices from the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal counsel, to appear on another special panel and therefore could not be present at the Jos court to continue with the case .
Meseh further told the court that the Senior lawyer had also called Jang’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) to inform him of the development and that both counsels agreed that the case be shifted to May 18, 2021 for continuation of hearing.
Ozekhome who was represented by a former Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Olivia Dazyem did not raise any objection to the EFCC submission.
However, Counsel to the Second Defendant, Sunday Odey expressed displeasure over the way the EFCC was handling the matter involving his client, Yusuf Pam.
He argued that the reason adduced by the EFCC not to proceed with the case was not cogent enough since the EFCC lead counsel sent a representation to stand in for him in the court.
He pleaded with the court not to subsequently entertain such excuses to enable them make progress in the matter.
Justice Christy Dabup in his ruling rejected the May 18 date proposed by the EFCC counsel on the grounds of inconvenience by the court and adjourned the case to a date to be agreed by both counsels in the month of June, 2021.