Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, overruled the British national, James Nolan, on his application for an adjournment over the inability of his counsel to prepare for his defence.
Justice Abang, who overruled Nolan, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, to call his first witness.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that EFCC had, on Oct. 21, arraigned Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), both British nationals, over their alleged complicity in the 9.6 billion dollars judgment against Nigeria.
Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), an Irish engineering company, had secured the award against Nigeria following the non-execution of a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA) the company had with the federal government.
The arraignment of the two British nationals is coming weeks after two P&ID directors were convicted over the deal.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI) and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on money laundering.
Earlier, the EFCC’s counsel had told Justice Abang that since the matter was slated for trial, the anti-graft agency was ready to commence the trial.
The lawyer told the court that he was in court with two witnesses.
However, Nolan’s Counsel, Paul Erokoro, SAN, told the court that he had already briefed the prosecution about the difficulty he faced in preparing for the trial.
He said the Nolan was being held at Kuje Correctional Centre where they were allowed access to him twice a week.
According to him, and on each visit, we are allowed only 15 minutes.
The lawyer attributed this to the fact that there were lots of persons awaiting trial at the correctional centre who all need to be visited by their counsel and families.
He said it was disheartening that all these persons received their visitors at once without any privacy, besides the time constraint.
“Again, the visitors are supervised by prison officers. So the time for proper communication is not there,” Erokoro said.
He lamented that the development had made it difficult for him to prepare for the trial.
Erokoro also hinted that his application for bail variation for Nolan was before the court.
He urged Justice Abang to grant the request.
However, Justice Abang dismissed the prayer for adjournment and ordered the EFCC to present the first witness, one Mr Agunbiade Adewale Akinseye, an account officer with Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB).