A Federal High Court in Abuja, has ordered that the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Moddibo Kawu, who has been accused of fraud to the tune of N2.5bn be brought to court on April 17, 2019, even if he is on a stretcher.
Justice F.O Giwa gave the ruling after Kawu’s lawyer, A.U Mustapha, told the court that his client was on admission at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, and could not come to court.
Kawu’s lawyer presented a medical certificate to the court to back the claim, adding that Kawu, who had had a major surgery 10 years ago had to check into hospital due to issues arising from the operation.
The NBC DG was to be arraigned alongside Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade, Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited and the Chief Operating Officer respectively, over their alleged complicity in the mismanagement of the N2.5bn seed grant for the Digital Switch-Over programme of the Federal Government
Kawu’s lawyer said, “He is on admission at the hospital at the moment. He had major surgery 10 years ago and I have a medical report from the University of Ilorin showing why he cannot be here. I ask for adjournment pending when he will be well enough to attend court.”
However, the counsel for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Henry Emore, did not oppose the plea for adjournment but asked the court to note the maximum number of times adjournment can be granted based on the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Justice Giwa, in her ruling, adjourned the matter to April 17, 2019, for arraignment. She also told the defence counsel to produce Kawu on the said date even if it means bringing him to the court on a stretcher.
She said, “You must ensure that your client is in court even if he has to be on a stretcher; I am agreeing to this adjournment taking into cognisance his health issues, but the trial needs to go on, you must ensure he is in court next time.”
The judge further ordered the ICPC to investigate the medical certificate and report back to the court.
Kawu, Omoluwa, and Onifade are facing 12 charges bordering on abuse of office, money laundering and misleading a public officer with the intent to defraud the federal government.
The commission accused Kawu of facilitating the payment of N2.5bn Federal Government Digital Switch-Over funds to his friends and associates which was allegedly converted into personal use in contravention of Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
Incidentally, Kawu has been very active in Kwara politics of late, helping to champion the ‘O to ge’ movement which led to the end of the ‘reign’ of Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Peoples Democratic Party recently.