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Alleged N3bn loan diversion: change in counsel stalls ‘whistleblower’s trial

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The change in defence counsel to John Idumange, who raised an alarm over alleged diversion of N3 billion Agriculture loan by government officials was on Friday stalled in a Yenagoa High Court.

When the case was called, a new counsel, Ms Ebiye Enegi who announced her appearance for Idumange prayed the court to grant a short adjournment to enable her study the case file.

She apologised for the absence of Idumange, a former General Manager of Radio Bayelsa in court, adding that the defendant was currently on admission in a hospital.

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The prosecution led by Mrs Iyobosa Apulu, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Bayelsa, did not object to the adjournment.

“We do not have any objection to this request for adjournment based on a new lawyer taking over, however, it should be noted that this is one adjournment, too many in this case.

“The reasons have ranged from accident to Ill health without any concrete evidence before the court, there is no detail of how the accident happened or the nature of the sickness.

”We do hope that the new defence counsel will do her utmost best and bring the defendant to court to take his plea,” Iyobosa said.

Justice Iniekenimi Uzakah subsequently adjourned the matter until Sept. 15.

The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa, Biriyai Sambo, (SAN) filed a suit against Idumange for misdemeanour and seditious publications against government officials.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Magistrates’ Court had on March 11 in Yenagoa, ordered Idumange’s detention for 30 days, pending police investigation.

Idumange, who alleged that officials of Bayelsa government had diverted a N3 billion Agric loan and subsequently submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was arrested on March 10.

Some officials of the state government had reported to the police that Idumange had made seditious publications that maligned their persons in his claims.

However, the State High Court, Sagbama Division, granted bail to Idumange, who was also an aide on Research and Documentation and later Social Media to former Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson.

NAN reports that the case, earlier assigned to Justice Ebiyerin Omukoro, was reassigned to Justice Uzakah.

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