The trial of four men charged with the purchase of forged bank notes before an Ikeja High Court in Lagos State was stalled on Monday due to the absence of a defence counsel.
The defendants in the suit case are: Mark Obisean, Olumide Mcintouch, Bolaji Bakare and Goodluck Bazunu.
They are standing trial on an amended 11-count charge levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The charges were for purchasing forged bank notes and conspiracy to purchase forged bank notes contrary to Section 370 and 410 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges following their re-arraignment on February 16.
The EFCC counsel, Nwandu Ukoha, informed the court that the matter was for continuation of trial and that the second prosecution witness was in court and was ready to proceed with the business of the day.
However, while Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), announced appearance for the first defendant, Bilikisu Abe, for the second defendant, and Ndubuisi Oraenyen for the fourth defendant, there was no representation for the third defendant.
The court, thereafter, stood down the case so that the third defence counsel could be reached.
When the case was called up afterwards, Ayorinde informed the court that they tried to reach the counsel but to no avail.
The learned silk, thereafter, applied that the matter be adjourned instead of being stood down again.
Ayorinde said: “A stand down can only be appropriate when there is some form of information, but in the instance there’s no information at all, we really have no idea.
“I’ll also write to the counsel about what has happened today in court.
“He owes us and he has let us know why he was not in court today.
“So, I urge your lordship to adjourn.”
Counsel for other defendants also aligned themselves with the position of the learned silk.
Justice Ismail Ijelu, thereafter, adjourned the case until November 30 for continuation of trial.
“In view of the absence of the defence counsel in court without explanation whatsoever, this court is compelled to further adjourn this case until November 30,” said Ijelu.
He further held that the absence of the counsel stalled proceedings and if at the next adjourned date the third defendant’s counsel was still absent in court, the third defendant would defend himself.
The EFCC alleged that sometime in 2018 in Ikeja Judicial Division, the defendants received and had in their possession forged United States dollar Travelers Cheque number GA908-981-564.
The Commission also submitted that the defendants conspired to purchase, receive and had in their possession forged United States travellers cheques.