The Senator representing Bayelsa Central, Benson Konbowei will be charged March 26 with falsification of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
The defendant’s absence from court caused the scheduled docketing of Senator Konbowei before the Federal Capital Territory’s High Court, or FCT, on Monday, February 12, to be postponed.
In the charge marked: CR/028/2023, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, preferred three charges, bordering on forgery of the NYSC exemption certificate, among others, against the senator.
In particular, he was charged with fabricating a certificate of exemption bearing the number 000256454 and dated July 4, 2008, in a fraudulent manner.
According to the police, the senator violated the Penal Code, Act CAP 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, sections 366, 156, and 158, and was subject to penalty under Section 364 of the same Act.
At the Monday’s proceedings at the FCT High Court sitting in Apo division, counsel to the senator, Gordy Uche (SAN) told the court that his client was “medically indisposed” and tendered a medical report to substantiate his claim.
He said, “My lord, the defendant is medically indisposed and cannot be in court. He is on a drip. I pray the court for an adjournment. I promise to provide him at the next proceedings.”
The attorney general of the federation’s counsel, Egwuaba Reuben, claimed that the senator was dodging justice and asked the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
Egwuaba said, “We oppose the medical report. He was at the Force Headquarters and wrote a petition against me on Friday where he stated that he wanted the police to continue with the case.
“He said he did not want me. In view of this, I seek an order of this court in accordance with Section 352 Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to issue a warrant arrest on the defendant. His absence is a calculated attempt to undermine the court.”
The trial judge, Justice Christopher Oba, however, overruled him and accepted the tendered medical report.
“The problem is that the court is expected to act on fact. If you have a contrary view you should say it on oath or bring another document to show that the medical report is not the fact,” the court held.
The hospital’s name has to be provided, the judge ordered after noticing that it was absent from the paperwork.
He postponed the matter till March 26 and 28 in order to hold the arraignment and start the trial.
“If you don’t come with your witnesses, I will strike out your case”, the Judge warned the police.
When Egwuaba and Eyinsan Lawrence identified themselves as the prosecution’s solicitors, there was a drama in court earlier.
Egwuaba informed the court that he had a fiat to defend him and that the case had been taken over by the AGF and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
However, Lawrence said that just a few minutes ago, Egwuaba had told him.
He said, “I was just informed. Egwuba served me this morning. Our position is that the IGP should be served and we will be communicated to allow him to take over the matter.
“As it is, we will need time to investigate the fiat and his claim that the AGF has taken over the matter. ”
The judge overruled Lawrence on the matter, adding that the AGF is the Chief Law Officer of the country.
He said, “I will recognise him since he is from the AGF and has submitted a document to that effect. The AGF is the Chief Law Officer of the land.
“Go and investigate if there is a reason not to recognise him, come back to me. It is the law that I should act on this. I will not recognise your appearance.”