The absence of the prosecuting team from the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on Monday stalled the trial of eight staff and a bisinessman accused of stealing N451million from Dangote Sugar Refinery Ltd.
The staff are; Musa Sule, Joseph Ukpah, Babatunde Ajao, Onyekwere Chinedu, Alayande Rahman, Omoro Ezekiel, Abugba Christian Odion and Mannir Mohammed.
A businessman, Habib Mande and his company El-Habib Property Nigeria Ltd are also facing trial alongside the defendants.
They face an eight-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, forgery of cheque requisition form and uttering of false document.
Reacting to the absence of the SFU prosecutor, Mr Emmanuel Jackson at Monday’s proceedings, counsels to the defendants, Messrs S. E. Okeke, Kola Kadiri and A. O. Omodele expressed their dismay.
The lawyers described the absence of the prosecutor as a form of delay tactics noting that he had been duly informed about proceedings.
They urged the court to take cognisance of the defense counsel’s actions and that the case be struck out of court due to lack of diligent prosecution.
Justice Sedotan Ogunsanya, however adjourned the case until Jan. 20, 2021 for continuation of trial.
According to the prosecution, the defendants committed the offences between 2012 and 2016 alongside Zainab Adebanjo who is now at large at the Dangote Sugar Refinery Ltd, Apapa, Lagos.
The SFU alleges that the staff and businessman conspired and stole N451million belonging to the company.
“On November 30, 2015, Sept. 7, 2015 and April 26, 2016, they also forged and uttered false cheque requisition forms with numbers 132243, 132229 and 132279, respectively,” Jackson said.
The offences contravene Sections 383(1), 390(9), 465, 467 468 and 561 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.