The absence of the third defendant, Yusuf Danjuma, on Wednesday stalled the trial of two former ministers charged for laundering N4.6 billion at a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Danjuma, who is charged alongside with the ministers, is said to be hospitaliZed in Kaduna.
Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, the two ex-ministers; Femi Fani-Kayode (Aviation) and Nenadi Usman (Finance) — and a company, Jointrust Dimentions Nigeria Ltd, are on a 17-count bordering on money laundering.
All the defendants, who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, had pleaded not guilty.
The case which was scheduled for the continuation of cross-examination of a prosecution witness could not go on because of the absence of the third accused.
When the case was called on Wednesday, Mr. Nnemeka Omewa, announced appearance for the EFCC, while Messrs Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), Norrisson Quakers (SAN) and K.C Nwofo, appeared for the first, second and third accused respectively.
The third defence counsel informed the court of the absence of the third accused.
Nwofo told the court that he received a call in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday) from the wife of the third accused, who informed him that the accused slumped in the bathroom while having a shower.
He said the wife had called out neighbours who joined in taking the accused to the hospital.
According to defence counsel, the incident occurred in Jere in Kaduna.
Nwofo told the court that since he is yet to get a copy of the hospital diagnosis, he could not comment on the exact health condition of the accused.
He promised to get details of the diagnosis from the hospital and make same available to the court.
Other defence counsel acceded to the request for adjournment by the third defence counsel.
In his reaction, the prosecutor, (Omewa), confirmed to the court, the position as stated by defence counsel.
He said the case was slated for a continuation of cross-examination, adding that since the request for adjournment was on health grounds, especially as put forward by the counsel, he would not push further.
Omewa also agreed with the request for adjournment.
In his remarks, Justice Rilwan Aikawa noted that generally, all the defendants had always been present in court for trial, adding that he will treat the excuse as exceptional.
Following the agreement of all counsel in the case, the court adjourned the case until June 11 and June 12 for a continuation of the trial, while he vacated the prior dates of May 3 and May 4.
The accused were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
On counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.
On counts eight to 14, the accused were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Similarly, Fani-Kayode and a man, Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million in excess of the amount allowed by law without going through a financial institution.
Besides, Fani-Kayode was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No. 125, Lewis Street, Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All the offences contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.