The no-case submission made before the federal high court Abuja by the suspended Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Kawu Modibbo has been rejected by Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo.
The charge was in respect of the alleged N2.5 billion fraud charge leveled against Kawu and two others by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The trial judge judge has also ordered them to enter their defence in the case.
Kawu, Pinnacle Communications Limited, its Chairman, late Lucky Omoluwa, and the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, Dipo Onifade were alleged, in the charge, to have misappropriated the N2.5b in the course of disbursing the seed grant for Federal Government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project.
While rejecting the defendant’s plea, Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo affirmed that the prosecution was unable to establish a prima facie case against them.
Upon an application by the prosecution, the judge deleted the name of Omoluwa, who died some months ago, from the charge.
While adopting their no-case submissions on February 10 this year, the defendants had contended that the prosecution failed, through all its witnesses, to make out a prima facie case against them.
Kawu’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) urged the court to discharge and acquit his client on the three counts of the charge.
“A vital witness in this case was not called and the court was gracious to give ample time for the state to call the minister as witness, but they failed.
“The onus lies on the state to call the minister as a witness because he gave the approval for the release of N2.5 billion grant for Federal Government’s DSO project. Mustapha said.
“As we speak, my lord, the minister has not come out to deny giving the first defendant the approval. He has not queried the first defendant; he has not said anything other than applauding the achievements of the defendant as the DG of NBC.
“My lord, for the minister not to refute the approval and not telling the court that he was misled, nor say anything to the contrary, shows a big gap,” Mustapha argued further.
Counsel to the second and third defendants, Alex Izinyon (SAN), spoke in the same vein, arguing that the prosecution failed to prove the essential ingredients outlined in sections 302 and 303 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Ama Etuwewe (SAN), Lawyer to the fourth defendant also prayed the court to discharge and acquit his client.
But in a counter-argument, the prosecution lawyer, Henry Emore, urged the court to reject the defendants’ no-case submission and hold that the prosecution has made out sufficient case against the defendants to warrant their being called upon to enter their defence.
In her ruling Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo held that with the evidence led by the prosecution, there was the need for the court to call on the defendants to respond to the allegations made against them.
He thereafter adjourned till July 1 for the first defendant to open his case.