A magistrate court sitting in Issele-uku, Aniocha North LGA of Delta State, today, February 18, 2016, adjourned the case of alleged forgery and conspiracy brought against frontline Delta politician, Prince Uzoma Idaboh, popularly addressed as UZ, following the resumed hearing of the matter.
Chijioke Erondu Esquire, after announcing his appearance as counsel to the complainant had informed the Court that he had already applied for fiat from the office of the Attorney General to handle the matter, but the Attorney General had been away from the state on official duties and thus had only endorsed the application on the morning of the trial day, which compelled him to appear before the Court, without the fiat, in order to forestall any unforeseen situation and also to formally ask for a short adjournment to enable him collect and formally present the endorsed fiat before the Court.
This submission did not however go down well with counsel to the accused, Ikhide Ikheloa Esquire, who flayed the request for adjournment, accusing the prosecution of a lack of preparedness and control over the case, and after having described the submission of Erondu as lengthy and irrelevant, went further to state that since neither the case file nor the complainant were even present in Court, he was tempted to say that there was actually no complainant in the matter and there was really no need to continue with the case.
He then urged the Court to invoke section 280 of the criminal procedure of Delta state to dismiss the charge against his client for want of diligent representation, adding that from the submission made by counsel to the complainant, he will not join issues with him since he had no documents to confirm his appearance in the matter, before the court.
A mild drama however ensued when, just as Chief Magistrate Ewerebor was considering the positions of the opposing counsels, C.P Okechukwu Esquire, a counsel attached to the office of the AIG, Zone 5, Benin, made a dramatic entrance into the Courtroom and, armed with the relevant documentations to support his involvement, announced his appearance as counsel to the prosecution.
Okechukwu then informed the Court that he had only been assigned to the matter around 4pm the day before in Benin, from where he had travelled to Iselle-uku today, for his appearance and after he had apologized for his late arrival, appealed to the Court for adjournment to enable him study the case file and prepare for the trial proper.
A verbal challenge was quickly raised by Counsel to the accused, who averred that the appearance of Okechukwu had brought a new twist to the tale and he would vehemently oppose any fiat by the state, if the prosecution was to be conducted by the office of the AIG, but he was quickly admonished by Chief Magistrate Ewerebor, who told him categorically that, “we will cross that bridge when we get there”.
Chief Magistrate Rosaline Ewerebor, having instructed Okechukwu to make his documents available to the other counsels for scrutiny and studiously considered the requests for adjournment by both counsels for the complainant and prosecution, subsequently directed all parties to the matter, in the presence of the accused Prince Uzoma Idaboh, who had been placed and had observed the entire proceedings from inside the witness dock, to agree on a unanimous date for the next sitting.
The matter was then adjourned to Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Responding to the claim by counsel to the accused that he had no authority to appear for the complainant and that a vehement challenge would be mounted if the Police proceeded to prosecute the case, Chijioke Ogbonna Erondu Esquire, while speaking to newsmen at the court premises, described the objection as ‘Perverse legalism which had no roots in law and fact.
According to Erondu, the Police was the chief prosecutor while the Attorney General was the chief law officer of the state and as such, had the prerogative to continue or discontinue or even prosecute the matter any way he deems fit, adding that the decision of the Attorney General to formally engage his services in the matter would be tested in law, when he presents the endorsed fiat from the A.G’s office on the next sitting date.
Prince Uzoma Idaboh, who is the owner of the well known Nelrose Hotel, Asaba and an aspirant in the People’s Democratic Party, PDP’s Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA, Aniocha North Local Government Area Primary election in November 2014, is facing a two-count charge of criminal conspiracy and forgery of PDP Primary result sheets, following the elections conducted on November 29, 2014, at Martins Primary School Issele-uku, in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
He had already pleaded not guilty to the charges and had earlier been granted bail in the sum of fifty Thousand Naira only (N50, 000) and a credible surety, who must be resident in Issele-uku.