Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed again on Wednesday failed to appear before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court as a witness in the ongoing trial of the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Modibbo Kawu.
Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Ltd and two others are being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on 12-count charges.
At a resumed sitting on Wednesday, the prosecution counsel, Henry Emore, informed the trial judge, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo- Giwa that the minister was absent in court because the president sent him on “an urgent assignment.”
“My Lord, I’m still expecting him; when I put a call to him, his PA said the president sent him on an urgent assignment’,” Umore told the court.
The Minister is part of the presidential delegation to the United Kingdom in respect of the legal altercation between Nigeria and P&ID firm.
On the other remaining witness, Emore said he wished to subpoena him, which the judge later signed for it to be enforceable under the law.
The prosecution counsel however sought an adjournment to enable him bring the two remaining witnesses.
Apparently dissatisfied with the development, the judge reminded him that there are limits to which a court can grant adjournment in a criminal case.
The judge also warned that once Emore exhausts the limit for an adjournment, she would not hesitate to close the case of the prosecution, and ask the defence to open their case.
Meanwhile, Justice Ogunbanjo-Giwa granted leave to the NBC boss to travel to Egypt to attend an International Telecommunications Union’s congress.
Ruling on the application, the court ordered that “leave is hereby granted to the 1st defendant to travel to Egypt from October 28 to November 22, for the ITU congress.
Justice Giwa ordered that the international passport of the 1st defendant should be released to him for the purpose of facilitating his travelling formalities.
The court ordered that the 1st defendant must submit his international passport to the registrar of the court upon return to Nigeria on or before November 30.
Justice Giwa said granting of the leave was predicated on a sworn affidavit to be filed in court by one of the sureties to face trial should the 1st defendant fails to return to complete his trial.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to October 21, December 3, 4 and 5 for continuation of trial.