Justice Sherifat Solebo of a Special Offences Court in Ikeja, has ordered that the case file of the CEO of Golden Tulip Hotel, Amechi Ndili, to be returned to Chief Judge for reassignment.
Justice Solebo gave the order as her statutory retirement date is approaching which might not permit her to complete the trial.
Amechi Ndili and two others, was scheduled to be arraigned before her today but the matter was stalled as a result of the health status of the second defendants, Njide Chizoba Ndili.
The Nigeria Police had filed three count charges against Amechi Ndili, Njide Ndili and Lionstone Offshore Service Ltd. which borders on stealing, contrary to section 516 of the Criminal Code law, Cap C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
According to charge information, the defendants between July 2012 and September 2013 in Lagos, stole by dishonestly converted the sum of $4,666,234.28 (four million, six hundred and sixty“thousand, two hundred and Thirty Four and Twenty Eight United State of “America Dollars, only) property of Hercules Offshore Nigeria Ltd. to their personal use.
Appearing before the court, the defendants counsel, a Senior Advocate, Mr. Ebun Shofunde, informed the court that Mrs Chizoba Ndili who is to be arraigned alongside with other defendants is sick and presently in hospital receiving medical care.
The senior silk prayed for an adjournment to enable the defendant appear for trial, while presenting a medical certificate from a private hospital to the court to affirm the health condition of Chizoba Ndili.
In a counter reaction, police counsel, ACP Simon Lough, SAN, expressed dismay over the development, urging court to dismiss the prayer, noting that it’s an antics to frustrate the trial again.
ACP Lough who pointed out that the matter has suffer series of set back in the last seven years they instituted the charges argued that the medical certificate presented to court is in contrary to Section 198 of Administration of Criminal Law of Lagos state which stipulates that medical certificate should be produce from government hospital.
In a short ruling, Justice Solebo noted that the section the prosecutor sighted does not apply in this instance, as defendants have not been formally arraign before the court, thereafter, advised party to take the matter before another judge.
The judge said that in the interest of justice it would not be proper if she started the trial and was unable to complete the trial as she would soon retired from the bench.