The absence of Justice Ajoke Adepoju, of an FCT High Court, Wuse, on Friday, stalled the trial of five men charged in connection with the failed Mpape bank robbery at a First Bank branch in Mpape.
Earlier, the court’s registrar informed all parties and their counsel that Justice Adepoju traveled and gave them March 20.
The police charged Ehizo Larry, Princewill Obinna, Elijah David, Timothy Joe and Ernest Ewin with five counts bordering on armed robbery and possession of locally made pistols.
Ajoke had on Feb. 14, ordered that the defendants be remanded in a correctional facility, pending bail application and fixed March 13, for hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the prosecution counsel, James Idachaba, told the court that the defendants conspired and invaded First Bank Plc, Mpape, Abuja, armed with locally made pistols, cutlasses and axes on Dec. 28.
Idachaba said the defendants invaded the bank with intent to steal money from the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and threatened to use violence on the staff and customers in order to obtain cash from the bank.
He further said the defendants forcefully collected mobile phones, value not yet known from one Ann Awele, a staff of the said bank.
He added that the defendants got arrested by a team of police officers while in possession of the locally made pistols without required licence.
The prosecution counsel said in the course of police investigations, police officers attached to the special anti-robbery squad (SARS), FCT Abuja, conducted search at Obinna’s house in Katampe 1, Mpape, Abuja.
According to him, two locally made pistols were recovered from Obinna as a result of the search .
He said the offence contravened the provisions of Section 3 and punishable under sections 6 (a) (b) (c) , 1 (2) (a), 2 (1), (2)(a), 27(1)(a)(i) of the Robbery and Firearms(special provisions) Act.LFN 2004.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Idachaba urged the court to remand the defendants in prison and applied for a short date, saying seven witnesses were listed to testify and that vital exhibits will be tendered.
The defence counsel for Larry and Ewin, Peter Ihunweze, did not oppose the prosecution counsel’s application but asked for a date to file for bail.
Anenin Enabosi , counsel to Obinna, aligned with Ihunweze’s submission, saying he had not been served with the charge sheet yet.