Absence of counsel stalls trial of alleged fake army general

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Absence of defence counsel on Friday stalled trial  of an alleged fake army general, Bolarinwa Abiodun, charged with impersonation, forgery and  N266 million fraud.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abiodun pleaded not guilty to a 13-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo  frowned at the absence of the counsel,  Mr Kayode Lawal,  and cautioned that court was not a marketplace where one could do anyhow.

She adjourned the case until  May 4 for continuation of trial.

The court had asked the defendant why his counsel was absent, and he said that his (Lawal’s) brother  informed him that the counsel  was not feeling fine.

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EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, also expressed disappointment at the response.

According to him, Lawal  had the phone numbers of  prosecution team but did not deem it appropriate to call and inform the team  that he would not be in court.

“I called him when I discovered that he was not in court, and he was sounding very lively and said  he sent his junior, but there is no representation here in court for the defendant.

“We have  two prosecution witnesses in court to testify.

“My lord,  we have undertaken not to delay this matter and we stand by our word,” he said.

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NAN reports that the EFCC alleges that the defendant impersonated an army general and defrauded two companies of a total of N266 million.

It also alleges that the defendant forged a Nigerian Army identity card with serial number 387140.

The anti-graft agency  said the alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3)  and 6 of Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act of 2006, and Section 363 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011. (NAN)

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