Alleged Forgery: Absence of Abebe Stalls Proceedings

The trial of John Warimeme Abebe, a senior brother to the late First Lady, Mrs Stella Obasanjo, accused of forgery by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was stalled today due to his absence to appear for trial.

Abebe’s counsel, Mr. Edoka Onyeke, apologized to the court for his client’s absence, noting that he had a health issues.

Onyeke told the court that he received a call that the defendant collapsed and was rushed to the hospital and he has been admitted at the hospital.

He further said that the cardiologist report was given to him this morning by someone from the hospital and he has avail it to the prosecutor’s.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr Abbas Mohammed affirmed he has received the medical report of the defendant and acknowledged the final written address dated March 28.

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Justice Mojisola Dada had at the last proceedings fixed April 13, 2022, for the adoption of written addresses in the trial.

The judge fixed the date after Abebe closed his defence.

Abebe was arraigned on July 26, 2018, on a four-count charge bordering on forgery, fabrication of evidence, using fabricated evidence and an attempt to pervert the course of justice by the EFCC.

Part of the charge reads: “That you, Dr. John Warimeme Abebe, on or about the 22nd day of June 2010 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged BP Exploration Nigeria Limited’s letter dated November 30, 1995 to Inducon (Nigeria) Limited by inserting in page 2 of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4m buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields” and purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited and committed an offence contrary to Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.”

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Abebe used fabricated evidence in suit no. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr. John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited, before the Federal High Court, which evidence was admitted and marked exhibit BB in the said suit and committed an offence contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.

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He had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

His counsel, Edoka Onyeke, had led the defendant (Abebe) in evidence to defend himself.

He was also cross-examined by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, who confronted him with several documents.

However, at the resumed proceedings, Mr. Onyeke told the court that the defence was closing its case, while he asked the court for a date to file written addresses.

Justice Dada subsequently adjourned to May 25, 2022, for the adoption of written addresses.

Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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