The scheduled arraignment of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ahmed Saleh and two other officials of the court before an Abuja High Court on alleged diversion of the court’s N2.2billion into their personal account with the United Bank for Africa (UBA) was stalled yesterday.
Saleh was billed to be arraigned along with Mr. Muhammed Abdulrahaman Sharif and Rilwanu Lawal before Justice Abba Bello Mohammed on a 9-count charge bordering on diversion of N2.2billion public fund, criminal breach of trust and taking bribe from Supreme Court contractors to the tune of N74.4m.
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN) had filed the charges against the defendants pursuant to the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the 1999 Constitution.
Yesterday, the arraignment could not hold as one of the defendants, Muhammed Abdulrahaman Sharif was absent in the court due to an undisclosed ailment.
His counsel, Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN) told Justice Muhammed that his client was lying critically ill at the emergency ward of the Specialists Hospital in Gwagwalada, Abuja, and pleaded with the judge for an adjournment of the arraignment.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, objected to the claim of the second defendant on the ground that no material evidence was placed before the court or served on government to show that the second defendant was actually in the hospital.
The government lawyer, however, said that since the evidence came from the bar, he will concede to the adjournment.
Apart from Sharif, the Chief Registrar, who is the first defendant and Rilwanu Lawal, who is the third defendant were in court but their plea could not be taken.
Justice Mohammed thereafter adjourned the arraignment tillto enable the second defendant recuperate from his ailment.
The Federal Government had on November 3 filed a 9-count charge against the three defendants at the registry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Judiciary.
Among the charges, they were alleged to have diverted a sum of N2.2b belonging to the Supreme Court in to their UBA account with number 2027642863 between 2009 and 2016 contrary to Section 96 of the Penal Code Act and punishable under Section 97 Cap 532 of the Code.