A Federal High Court, Abuja, has threatened to strike out a N6 billion suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against wife of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mrs Cecilia Osipitan.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the warning following late filing of documents needed in the commencement of Osipitan’s trial by counsel to the EFCC, Chris Mshelia.
Mrs Osipitan and her company, PJO Ventures Limited, were arraigned in a nine-count money laundering charge to the tune of N6 billion by the anti-graft agency.
Osipitan, who was arraigned on March 26, 2021, alongside her company as 2nd defendant, was admitted to bail in the sum of N200 million with a surety in the like sum.
She was alleged to have received the money through her company to acquire choice property in parts of the country.
However, at the resumed trial, the EFCC lawyer said though the matter was slated for trial commencement and a witness was in court, he informed that an additional proof of evidence and additional list of witnesses had just been filed the previous day.
“Is it going to affect today’s trial,” the judge asked.
“Yes, some of the documents are part of today’s proceeding,” Mshelia responded.
The judge, who recalled that the last proceeding in the matter was on July 13, 2021, expressed surprise that the lawyer only came to file his documents a day before sitting.
“From 13th July, 2021, till January 2022, you have only been able to file your additional particulars of charge a day before trial and expect that it be used on the day of trial?
“You want the defendant to stand trial on a document that you filed yesterday?” Ekwo asked rhetorically.
Mshelia then apologised for filing the documents late.
The judge, while adjourning the trial until April 5, April 6 and April 7, warned against
“Learned counsel, I am giving you this opportunity for you to file whatever you want to file and serve the other side in good time before the next date of trial.
“If you fail to show seriousness on the next date of trial, I will strike the charge out,’ he ruled.(NAN)