ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The change of counsel for Dr John Idumange, a former General Manager of Radio Bayelsa, on Friday stalled trial at a State High Court.
Idumange had raised the alarm over alleged diversion of N3bn Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture loan by Bayelsa government officials
When the case was called for hearing, a new lawyer, Ms Ebiye Enegi, announced her appearance for Idumange.
The defence counsel urged the court to grant a short adjournment to enable her to study the case file as she was only briefed the previous day.
Enegi apologised for Idumange’s absence in court, saying the defendant was currently in hospital for treatment.
The prosecution led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Bayelsa, Mrs Iyobosa Apulu, said she had no objection to the adjournment sought by the new lawyer.
She noted that the case has been adjourned several times at the instance of the defendant.
She said: “We do not have any objection to this request for adjournment based on a new lawyer taking over. However, it should be noted that this is one adjournment, too many, on this case.
“The reasons have ranged from accident to Ill health without any concrete evidence before the court. There is no detail on how the accident happened or the nature of the sickness.
” We do hope that the new defence counsel will do her utmost best and bring the defendant to court to take his plea.”
Justice Iniekenimi Uzakah subsequently adjourned the matter until September 15, 2021.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa, Biriyai Sambo (SAN), had filed a suit against Idumange for misdemeanour and seditious publications against government officials.
A Magistrates’ Court had on March 11, 2021, in Yenagoa, ordered Idumange’s detention for 30 days, pending police investigation.
Idumange, who alleged that officials of Bayelsa government had diverted a N3b agric loan and subsequently submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was arrested on March 10.
Some officials of the state government had reported to the police that Idumange had made seditious publications that maligned their persons in his claims.
However, the State High Court, Sagbama Division, granted bail to Idumange, who was also an aide on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to former Bayelsa Governor, Senator Seriake Dickson.
The case, earlier assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro, was reassigned to Justice Uzakah.