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The trial of Hon. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Godwin Obla SAN continued yesterday at the High Court of Lagos, Ikeja before Hon. Justice Oshodi with the EFCC calling its 14th witness, Dr. Olumuyiwa Solanke, medical director of Goldcross Hospital, Ikoyi.
The Court proceedings began with complaints by both defendants’ legal practitioners, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe SAN who represents Godwin Obla SAN and Mr. Olawale Akoni SAN who represents the Honourable Judge. They complained of the late arrival of the prosecutor, Mr. Oyedepo who did not arrive in court until after 10 am thereby keeping his seniors at the bar and the court waiting. Mr. Oyedepo apologized and stated that it wasn’t in his character to keep the court waiting. He stated that he meant no disrespect to the court, the learned senior advocates or even the defendants but that certain events occurred that caused his late arrival. The court accepted his apology and the proceedings began.
The prosecution’s 14th witness, Dr. Solanke testified during the examination-in-chief that as at October 2016, he was a medical director at Goldcross Hospital on Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. He told the court that Hon. Justice Ajumogobia was a patient at the hospital and had been admitted in the hospital on the 7th of October 2016 and seen by a cardiologist. She was discharged on the 13th of October 2016 and given a sick leave paper for a week to enable her complete her medication and continue her recuperation at home.
He testified that on the 19th of October 2016 after he had left the hospital and was on his way home, he received a telephone call from the hospital and was informed that EFCC operatives were at the hospital. He stated that he spoke to a certain Mr. Lawal from the EFCC who informed him that they were at the hospital to inquire if Hon. Justice Ajumogobia was on admission on that day. He said that he informed Mr. Lawal that at the time he left the hospital at about 7p.m on that day, she was not on admission.
He testified that the hospital keeps records of patients who were on admission and that Hon. Justice Ajumogobia was not on admission in the hospital on the 19th of October 2016. He was shown the records of patients on admission, which had earlier been tendered by the prosecution, and he confirmed that the records represent those who were on admission on the 19th of October 2016 and that the judge’s name was not reflected on the record.
He further testified that shortly after his telephone conversation with Mr. Lawal of the EFCC, he received a call from the Judge complaining that she was not feeling better despite the medication and he told her to go back to the hospital if she was not feeling better and that he would examine her the following day. He said that he also called the hospital to expect her. He confirmed that his conversation with Mr. Lawal of the EFCC came before his conversation with the Judge.
Under cross-examination by Mr. Akoni SAN, Dr. Solanke stated that he was detained by the EFCC for one night in relation to this matter. He said that he does not really know the purpose of his detention but he does not think it was because he didn’t tell the EFCC what they wanted to hear. He stated that the telephone conversation with the Judge happened sometime between 7 and 8pm. When asked if he knew the distance between Parkview Estate and Goldcross Hospital, he stated that he didn’t know. He stated that he was the one that signed the letter forwarding the names of patients on admission on the 19th of October 2016 to the EFCC and that the letter/report was made on and dated the 24th of October 2016. He maintained that the report/records sent to EFCC reflected the names of all the patients on admission at the hospital on the 19th of October 2016.
He admitted that he did not return to the hospital on the 19th of October 2016 and all the information he has on all that transpired after he left the hospital were given to him by the staff of the hospital. He further admitted that when he returned to the hospital on the morning of the 20th of October 2016, he met the Judge in the ward at the hospital.
He was shown an entry on the records of patients on admission on the 19th of October 2016 sent to the EFCC and he admitted that the date of admission of the patient in that entry was the 20th of October 2016. He admitted that there was at least one patient’s name in the records sent to EFCC who was admitted on the 20th of October 2016. He again admitted that the records of patients on admission were produced on the 24th of October 2016, three days after he had been detained and released by the EFCC.
During re-examination, the doctor explained that the entry of the patient admitted on the 20th of October 2016 was a case of a 28-days old baby admitted into the emergency at midnight and was thus recorded for the 20th of October 2016.
After the completion of his testimony, the witness was discharged. Mr. Oyedepo then informed the court that the prosecution had served a subpoena on the Permanent Secretary of Bureau of Lands and that he had gone personally to the Bureau of Lands to follow up on the subpoena. He informed the court that a director explained the challenges experienced by the Bureau to locate some documents sought to be used as a result of a recent change of office. He therefore pleaded that the court to give them one more chance to appear in obedience to the subpoena. The court noted that the next application that ought to be made after a refusal to attend court upon the service of a subpoena is a bench warrant but Mr. Oyedepo stated that he would not want to apply for a bench warrant yet as the director explained the constraints the Bureau was experiencing.
Both Mr. Akoni and Chief Adedipe opposed the application for an adjournment stating that there was nothing in the proof of evidence suggesting a witness from the Bureau of Lands. They stated that the prosecution cannot pick and choose witnesses they intend to call without frontloading the necessary documents and accused the prosecution of conducting the trial by piecemeal. Mr. Akoni stated that the trial had taken two years now and was taking a toll on everyone.
The court, noting the observations of the lawyers to the defendants, which he stated were good observations, stated that it would give the prosecution the adjournment requested for. The charge has been adjourned to the 14th of September 2018 for continuation of trial.