Former Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday failed to appear before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to explain his role in the approval of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd for the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.
The former minister was among those listed by the prosecution counsel, Henry Emore, as additional witnesses and he was expected to be in court to give testimony having approved the payment of N2.5 billion to the firm.
But after calling two witnesses, the prosecution counsel informed the court that he would have called the former Information Minister but for his absence. Emore stated that Mohammed had travelled out of the country and is expected back in the country on or before July 31.
The court was also informed that Mohammed had finally made statement before ICPC as a former minister, and that the other witness he wished to call was away in Saudi Arabia.
However, counsel to Onifade Oladipupo and Sir Lucky Omoluwa, second and third defendants respectively, told the court that he had already filed an application to oppose the list of additional witness filed by the prosecution counsel. Izinyon stated that the defence team had already joined issues with the prosecution on the failure of ICPC to call the Information Minister who approved the payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle as well as join him as a defendant in the case.
A witness called by the ICPC told the court that the then Information Minister had refused to make statement to ICPC, claiming that he needed to get clearance from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Earlier, upon cross-examination by Izinyon, a prosecution witness, Olugbemi Abraham, told the court that during investigation, they could not interview the then Minister of Information because he said he needed clearance from the Secretary to Government of the Federation.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned till July 1 for ruling on a motion by the second and the third defendants seeking the release of their International passports to enable them travel abroad for official function.