The trial of the former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, over alleged false declaration of assets, has been stalled as the Code of Conduct Tribunal granted the Federal Government two months to amend the charges brought against him.
Chairman of the tribunal, Mr Danladi Yakubu Umar, granted the adjournment despite the accused person’s insistence that he was ready for the trial to go ahead.
The oral application by the lawyer to the Federal Government, Mr Peter Danladu, to alter the charge was, however, opposed by counsel to Orubebe, Mr Selekeowei Larry, who told the tribunal chairman that it was improper for such an application to be treated orally.
Mr Orubebe’s counsel told the tribunal that it was wrong in law for the tribunal and the accused to be taken unawares by the federal government, adding that the alteration to the charge has to be made in writing for all parties to see.
The Tribunal Chairman, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the trial to January 27, 2016.
The former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, has entered a ‘not guilty’ plea for two count charges of false declaration of assets and another two counts of bribery.
Mr Orubebe in counts one and two was accused of failure to declare his assets at plot 2722 Kyamu and plot 2059 in Asokoro district both in Abuja on assumption of office as Minister on September 26, 2007.
In count three, he was accused of accepting 50 million naira bribe from one Pastor Jonathan Alota, on September 19, 2012 for award of contract in favour of his (Alota’s) company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited.
In count four, he allegedly accepted additional 20million naira bribe from Alota in 2013 for the award of a contract to Chemtronics Nigeria Limited for the construction of skill acquisition centre at Edo State for the sum of 1.8billion naira.
Trial, however, could not commence as the prosecutor told the tribunal that he was not ready with his witnesses.
According to the prosecutor he would require time to get all of his witnesses ready. He therefore asked for two weeks extension to enable him commence with his case.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar, expressed disappointment at the failure of the prosecution to present its witnesses immediately after the arraignment.
He adjourned till November 26 with a warning to the prosecution to come with all their witnesses on the next hearing date.
Former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe, is to be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on four counts of false assets declaration and bribery.
Mr Orubebe is being charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asoko district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.
In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.
The former Niger Delta Minister is to appear before the Justice Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal on November 9, 2015.
Mr Orubebe’s name was in the news after the Presidential election of March 28.
On 31 March 2015, Orubebe, acting as a polling agent for the Peoples Democratic Party, tried to disrupt the proceedings of the 2015 presidential election collation.
At the centre in Nigerias capital, Orubebe alleged that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had taken side with the opposition political party, All Progressives Congress.
He, however, subsequently apologised to Nigerians over his conduct by tendering an unreserved apology urging them not to follow in his footsteps and explaining that he regretted his action.