Alleged N43.5m Fraud: Absence of Defence Counsel Stalls Trial of NOGASA Chair, Fatuyi Phillips

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Friday, May 26, 2023, adjourned till June 16, 2023 the trial of Fatuyi Yemi Philips, Chairman, Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, NOGASA, over an alleged N43.5m fraud, due to the absence of the defence counsel.

Phillips, who is standing trial alongside Oceanview Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, was first arraigned on April 7, 2022 on a two-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N43, 502,000.00.

He pleaded "not guilty" to the charges.

The prosecution, after presenting its fifth and last witness, Musa Mohammed, a Bureau de Change operator, had closed its case against the defendant on March 30, 2023.

Mohammed, while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, M.S. Owede, narrated how he got to know the defendant and the business transaction that they engaged in.

The witness had also narrated how the defendant gave him the sum of $40,000 cash to help him change sometime in September 2016.

The Judge had, thereafter, adjourned till May 26, 2023 (today) for defence.

However, at today's sitting, there was no representation for the defendant, as the prosecution counsel informed the court that his attention was called to a letter sent by the defence counsel, O. Ajanaku, containing the prior notification that he would not be present in court today.

"This morning, my attention was drawn to a letter from the defence counsel that he will not be in court, today," he said.

Owede, however, told the court that he saw the defence counsel fully robed in the court on Monday, "yet he claimed that he has not been to office this week.

"My lord, to further amplify his mischief, he refused to suggest a date. The reason is not far-fetched: it is so that when we take a date, he'll say, Oh! It’s not convenient, but we'll reluctantly oblige him," he said.

The Judge adjourned till Friday, June 16, 2023 for defence.

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