N3bn loan: Bayelsa whistleblower’s trial stalled by defense counsel’s absence

The trial of a former General Manager of the Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation, John Idumange, was on Thursday stalled at a state High Court in Yenagoa presided over by Justice Iniekenimi Uzaka as a result of the absence of the defence counsel.

Idumange is standing trial for ‘whistleblowing’ that some state government officials diverted the N3bn agriculture loan of the Central Bank of Nigeria allocated to Bayelsa.

He was first arraigned on March 11 following his arrest the previous day for the allegation.

Idumange, also a former Special Adviser on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to the immediate past governor of the state, Seriake Dickson, now a Senator, had also petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the alleged fraud.

When the case came up for hearing on Thursday, the prosecuting counsel and State Director of Public Prosecution, Iyobosa Apulu argued that an earlier bench warrant issued on the defendant ought to be issued on his surety as well.

She urged the court to also issue another bench warrant against Idumange’s surety to produce him in court.

Iyobosa said, “We do not know the whereabouts of the defendant who was previously on bail before the case was transferred to this court, but his surety can be traced and that is why we want the bench warrant to be issued against the surety to prevail on him to produce the defendant in court.”

But the judge adjourned the matter to September 10 for continuation and ruling on the prosecution’s application for a bench warrant on the defendant’s surety.

Justice Uzaka had on July 19, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Idumange after his counsel, Ebikebuna Aluzu informed the court that the defendant was involved in a car accident while on his way to court, and was hospitalised.

The case was initially assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro but was later reassigned to Justice Uzaka.

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