A Lagos Magistrate Court sitting in Ebute- Metta, on Tuesday declined to discharge a staff of Ecobank Plc, Oniegho-Areh Thompson, who is standing trial for alleged N1million theft.
Magistrate F. O. Ikobayo rejected an application filed by the defendant’s lawyer, Mr. Oluseyi Olukoga, to discharge him.
Oniegho-Areh, who works with the Apapa branch of the bank, is standing trial on a two-count charge of conspiracy and stealing preferred against him by the police.
He was accused of stealing N1 million belonging to one Dr. Majaron Stanley.
The banker and others now at large were alleged to have committed the offence on April 21, 2015, at about 10.00hrs at Randle Road, Apapa, Lagos.
According to the prosecution, the offence is contrary to Sections 409 and 278(a)(b) of the criminal laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2011 and punishable under the same.
The defendant was first arraigned before Magistrate J. O. A. Adepeju of Igbosere Chief Magistrate’s Court, Lagos Island, on March 21, 2017.
However, the matter was transferred to Ebute-Metta early this year.
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At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the prosecutor, Insp. Haruna Ibrahim, was said to be indisposed, the situation which made the counsel to the defendant to urge the court to discharge his client of the charges.
Olukoga said: “This matter has been on for about five years and the court will see that the defendant was never absent.
“The complainant had given evidence and all adjournment had been at the instance of the prosecution. In view of this, I urged the court to discharge my client of the case.”
Also addressing the court in the absence of the prosecutor, Mr. Adewale Fadipe, the counsel who is watching brief for the complainant, said: “Contrary to the submission of the defendant’s counsel, the case is not up to five years, it was instituted in 2017 and since the case has been coming up, the complainant has never been absent.
“I spoke with the prosecutor and he told me that he will be going for a seminar today, (Tuesday). It is on this ground that, we shall be asking for an adjournment.”
Ruling on the application, Magistrate Ikobayo said: “The case is just two years not five years as claimed by the defendant’s counsel. Also, from my record, the complainant has been coming since I took over the matter.
“I cannot discharge the defendant now because the complainant is in court today (Tuesday) and he has been coming each time the matter came up.”