By Austin Ogwuda
ASABAâ€”THE Federal High Court, Asaba, will this morning commence definite hearing in the alleged case of money laundering against the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, as the much-awaited second accused person, Mrs. Udoamaka Okoronkwo, whose absence had been stalling the hearing of the case is expected to appear.
The court had during its last sitting on the case ruled that it will commence day to day hearing of the case beginning from today (Tuesday to Friday) when the lead counsel to Ibori, Mr. J.B. Dawuda (SAN), told the court that the process of extraditing Mrs. Okoronkwo was almost being perfected.
The court had since ordered that Okonronkwo be arrested and produced in court by the police to enable prosecution proceed with the case.
Dawuda informed the court that â€œthe first requirement for an extradition is whether the accused person consents to or does not consent to the extradition process. I can confirm that on Monday, June 1, I was with her and her English solicitors.
There, she expressed her willingness to come and face the chargesâ€.
He further expressed readiness of Ibori team to go ahead with the trial at full speed, saying that â€œwe are not opposed to definite days being taken today for day to day trial to beginâ€.
Presiding judge, Mr. Justice Marcel Awokolehin, then ordered that at the next adjourned date of July 14, the trial will hold daily from that Monday the 14th to Friday, July 17.
EFCC legal lead counsel, Mr. Ibrahim Isyaku (SAN), had called attention to the absence of the second accused, Mrs. Okoronkwo, and said the trial could not commence in her absence.
â€œThe second accused person is still not in court; it would be recalled that on the 27th of April, a bench warrant was issued in respect of the second accused person, but because she is standing trial before a British Court, an extradition process was commenced. My Lord, we are still in the full process of same.â€
So, as the case could not go on in her absence, the EFCC lawyer asked for an adjournment; saying â€œmy Lord, in the circumstances, we crave the indulgence of this honourable court to allow a further adjournment to enable us complete the process of having her before this honourable court.
â€œMy Lord, to show our seriousness and readiness to proceed with the matter, we are asking the court to grant accelerated hearing thereafter.â€