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Justice Halima Saleeman, the presiding judge of the Ilorin High Court in the trial of five accused persons in the April 5, 2018, Offa bank robbery case, has adjourned the hearing on the matter till March 14 and 15, 2019.

The hearing, which was slated to hold between February 19 and 20, 2019, was stalled due to the absence of the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe. The accused persons standing trial were Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez, and Niyi Ogundiran, were all brought to court.

Prosecution counsel, Professor Wahab Egbewole, who announced the absence of the defence counsel in court on Tuesday, said that Emeribe called and sent a text message to him on what he described as “life-threatening experience on the road” and suggested adjournment, which the court reluctantly agreed with.

Speaking with journalists after the court sitting, Prof Egbewole said that the defence counsel called him on Sunday and also sent a text message to him on Tuesday that he could not be in court on Tuesday and suggested a date after the national elections.

“This is just to show on the part of the prosecution that we’ve arranged our witnesses because we have them here from Plateau and Zamfara states, to ensure that the matter proceeds. But here we are,” he said.

The presiding judge, who expressed disappointment over the absence of the defence counsel in court said that the prosecution counsel should have asked for details of the “life-threatening experience” of the defence counsel.

“Does it mean that he won’t step out of his room till after the national elections? I can’t fathom this excuse and explanation, for someone to sit in the comfort of his house and be sending text messages. This court is only interested in the timely disposition of the matter and any delay could put the court in jeopardy,” she said.

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