The trial of John Warimeme Abebe before Justice Mojisola Dada of a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, which was slated for the adoption of final written addresses on Wednesday, 13th April 2022, could not go on, as the defence counsel, E.D. Onyeke, informed the court that he received a call a day earlier informing him that his client collapsed and was admitted in a hospital.
Abebe, who was arraigned on 26th July 2018, is facing a four-count charge bordering on forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
One of the counts reads: “That you, Dr John Warimeme Abebe, on or about the 22nd day of June 2010 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged BP Exploration Nigeria Limited’s letter dated 30th November 1995 to Inducon (Nigeria) Limited by inserting in page 2 of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4m buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields”, and purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited and committed an offence contrary to Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.”
Another count reads: “That you, Dr John Warimeme Abebe, on or about the 22nd day of June 2010 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly used fabricated evidence in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited, before the Federal High Court, which evidence was admitted and marked exhibit BB in the said suit and committed an offence contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
The defence had closed its case on 18th January 2022 and the court adjourned till today (April 13, 2022) for “definitive adoption of written addresses”.
However, at the resumed sitting today, Onyeke told the court that his client was on admission and so could not be in court.
He said: “Yesterday, I received a call informing me that the defendant collapsed, and was taken to the hospital.
“I put a call through. And lo and behold, it was a case of heart palpitation! So yesterday, I was told that he had been admitted to the hospital.”
He further informed the court of the medical report issued by the cardiologist consultant of the hospital, where he is presently hospitalized, which he said the prosecution had also been furnished with.
He also furnished the court with the said medical report.
“That’s why he is not in court,” Onyeke added.
He also apologised for the absence of his client.
He, thereafter, informed the court that the defence had filed its final written address, but apologised and admitted that it was served late on the prosecution in March.
“I know that they will need some time to respond, and I apologise,” Onyeke said.
The prosecuting counsel, Abbas Muhammed, acknowledged receipt of the said medical report “this morning”.
He also acknowledged the receipt of the defendant’s final written address, noting that “we are still within time to respond”.
The case was, thereafter, adjourned till 25th May 2022 for the adoption of final written addresses.