Bayelsa senator’s ill-health stalls arraignment

The arraignment of the senator representing Bayelsa Central, Benson Konbowei, was on Monday stalled due to his absence in court.

The Inspector General of Police had instituted a forgery suit against the senator.

In the suit marked: CR/028/2023, the IG preferred three charges, bordering on forgery of the National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate, among others, against the senator.

He was accused of fraudulently forging a document titled ‘Certificate of Exemption’ with number 000256454 and dated July 4, 2008.

The police said the senator acted contrary to the provisions of Sections 366,156 and 158 of the Penal Code Act CAP 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and was liable to punishment under Section 364 of the same Act.

At the proceedings at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Apo, the counsel for the defendant, Gordy Uche (SAN), told the court that his client was “medically indisposed” and tendered a medical report to substantiate his claim.

He said, “My Lord, the defendant is medically indisposed and cannot be in court. He is on a drip. I pray the court for an adjournment. I promise to provide him at the next proceedings.”

However, the counsel for the Attorney General of the Federation, Egwuaba Reuben, said the defendant was evading trial.

He prayed the court to issue a bench arrest on the senator.

Egwuaba said, “We oppose the medical report. He was at the force headquarters and wrote a petition against me on Friday where he stated that he wanted the police to continue with the case. He said he did not want me. In view of this, I seek an order of this court in accordance with Section 352 ACJA to issue a warrant arrest on the defendant. His absence is a calculated attempt to undermine the court.”

The trial judge, Justice Christopher Oba, overruled him and accepted the tendered medical report.

“The problem is that the court is expected to act in fact. If you have a contrary view you should say it on oath or bring another document to show the medical report is not the fact,” he said.

The judge who observed that the document had no hospital name, ordered the name of the hospital must be provided.

He adjourned the matter till March 26 and 28 for arraignment and commencement of trial.

“If you don’t come with your witnesses I will strike out your case,” he held.

Earlier, there was a drama in court when Egwuaba and Eyinsan Lawrence introduced themselves as the counsel for the prosecution.

Egwuaba told the court that the AGF and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, (SAN) had taken over the case and he had a fait to represent him.

But Lawrence said Egwuaba just informed him some minutes ago.

He said, “I was just informed. Egwuba served me this morning. Our position is that the IG should be served and we will be communicated to allow him to take over the matter. As it is, we will need time to investigate the fait and his claim that the AGF has taken over the matter.”

The judge overruled Lawrence on the matter, adding that the AGF is the Chief Law Officer of the country.

He said, “I will recognise him since he is from the AGF and has submitted a document to that effect. The AGF is the Chief Law Officer of the land. Go and investigate if there’s a reason not to recognise him, come back to me. It is the law that I should act on this. I will not recognise your appearance.”

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