The absence of the defence counsel on Thursday, July 29, stalled the trial of a former General Manager of the Bayelsa State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Bayelsa), Dr. John Idumange.
Dr. Idumange is standing trial for ‘whistleblowing’, at a state High Court in Yenagoa the state capital, presided over by Justice Iniekenimi Uzaka.
The former university lecturer had accused some government officials in the administration of Governor Douye Diri of diverting the N3 billion agriculture loan allocated to the state by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Idumange was first arraigned on March 11 following his arrest the previous day at the premises of a private radio station in the state, where he had gone to advance the allegations made against the said officials.
The former Special Adviser on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Seriake Dickson, had insisted that with the information at his disposal, the top government officials diverted the money for their personal use.
The fiery critic also petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the alleged fraud, requesting the anti-graft agency to investigate the matter and prosecute all those found to have been involved.
When the matter came up for hearing, the prosecuting counsel and State Director of Public Prosecution, Iyobosa Apulu noted that an earlier bench warrant issued on the defendant ought to have also been issued on his surety.
Apulu prayed the court to also issue another bench warrant against Idumange’s surety to produce him in court.
She said: “We do not know the whereabouts of the defendant who was previously on bail before the case was transferred to this court, but his surety can be traced and that is why we want the bench warrant to be issued against the surety to prevail on him to produce the defendant in court”.
The judge however, adjourned the matter to September 10, 2021 for continuation and ruling on the prosecution’s application for a bench warrant on the defendant’s surety.
Recall that Justice Uzaka had on July 19, issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Idumange after his counsel, Ebikebuna Aluzu informed the court that the defendant was involved in a car accident while on his way to court, and was hospitalised.
The case was initially assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro but was later reassigned to Justice Uzaka.
Idumange recently petitioned the disciplinary committee of the Yenagoa branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), accusing the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo of using his office to influence the course of justice in the case.