Court adjourns Rivers govt Vs SAIPEM SPA case, warns parties to respect court order

The criminal case between the Rivers State Government vs. SAIPEM SPA and six others have been adjourned till January 11, 2022 for further hearing.

At the proceedings, the Judge cautioned parties against disrespecting court orders.

The case came up on December 14, 2021 before Justice Okogbule  Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court

Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, D. G. Adeyemi Esq. and I.D. Israel Esq., represented the Rivers State Government. Counsel issued a FIAT.

While Mr Odein Ajumogobia, SAN and Patrick Osu Esq appeared for the 1st and 2nd Defendants (SAIPEM SPA & SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd) respectively. The 3rd -7th Defendants were unrepresented though duly served as ordered by Court.

Counsel to the state informed the Court that the Walter Peviani/3rd Defendant (SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd.’s MD), 4th Defendant/Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, 5th Defendant/Giandomenico Zingali, 6th   Defendant/Vitto Testaguzza, and Davide Anelli/7th Defendant have been served  with the Amended Information and the proof of Evidence via : i. publications in 3 National Newspapers, ii. Pasting by the Bailiff of Court at New Operational Base of the Defendants at Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt and by sending same to the Defendants’ Secretariat email address segreteria.societ[email protected]

Chief Obla immediately applied pursuant to Section 120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015 for the issuance of warrant of arrest to compel the appearance of Mr Walter Peviani/the 3rd Defendant and the other Defendants in court at the next date for the criminal proceedings.

However, Counsel to the 1st and 2nd Defendants pleaded profusely on behalf of the 1st -3rd Defendants, citing section 121 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Law for the Court to indulge them for today and that at the next adjourned date the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants will be present in Court.

The Court noted that Ajumogobia announced appearance only for the 1st and 2nd Defendant and cannot therefore urge anything in favour of any other Defendants’.

At this point Ajumogobia announced appearance for the third Defendant also. 

The court held that it has taken notice of the Defendants’ disrespect for the court despite the fact that they have all been served with the Amended Information and proof of evidence.

The Court observed that it is a criminal proceeding and the Defendants are bound to be present in court to take their plea and both Sections 120 and 121 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law empowers the court to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the appearance of the Defendants in Court to take their plea at the next adjourned date.

However, after a plea from the Chief Ajumogobia, and his undertaking to ensure the presence of the Defendants at the next hearing, the Court agreed to bend backwards and decided to keep the issuance of the warrant of arrest at bay till the next adjourned date,

However, Justice Gbasam promised to effect the full weight of the law to compel their appearance if they refuse to appear at the next adjourned date.