Defence lawyer’s absence stalls phantom PhD trial

Chima Igwe

The trial of a former acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, Lagos, Chima Igwe, over an alleged certificate fraud, was stalled on Tuesday due to the absence of his lawyer.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had directed the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to begin his prosecution for receiving salaries with a phantom doctorate for 18 years.

A PUNCH correspondent had visited Universite D’Abomey Calavi, Benin Republic, where the defendant claimed to have bagged the PhD, and discovered that he did not complete the programme and had only been using an attestation letter issued by his supervisor in 2002 to gain promotion at the institute.

During the court sitting on Tuesday, the matter was called for continuation and a member of the prosecuting team of the ICPC, Kehinde Adetoye, informed the court that the commission received a letter from the defence counsel on Friday, June 10, 2022, seeking adjournment.

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Adetoye explained that the defence counsel had communicated that he would be in another court in Abuja and would be back in Lagos on Wednesday.

He said, “In view of that, the defence counsel sought vacation of dates of today and tomorrow.

“However, my Lord, on our own, we want to humbly apply to the court that the Thursday date should also be vacated as well.

“We want the court to give us another three clear dates for the continuation of this matter.”

Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court had slated June 14, 15 and 16 for continuation of court proceedings of the matter as the court in February also summoned a FIIRO worker, Abati Abidemi, to testify or face arrest.

Abidemi is expected to testify as the second prosecution witness after the first prosecution witness tendered three exhibits and the court admitted them.

Justice Solebo adjourned the matter until September 12, 13, and 14 for continuation of trial.

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