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The trial of Mrs Rose Deffi, one of the 89 staff of the National Examination Council (NECO) dismissed in the year 2020 over an allegation of certificate forgery has been stalled following her absence in the Plateau State High Court, Jos when the case was called on Thursday.

 

Mrs. Deffi had been charged to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over an allegation of forgery of her academic certificate while being a staff of NECO.

 

During a nationwide certificate verification exercise conducted by NECO in year 2020 for members of staff, 89 workers were indicted and confirmed to be using fake certificates. The Council’s Governing Board thereafter approved the dismissals of the 89 workers and transferred their files to the ICPC and the Nigerian Police for prosecution.

 

When the case was called at the Court on Thursday before Justice G. D. Fwomyon, Counsel to the Defendant, Mr. P. M. Lere told the Court that his client only got a call at about 9:30pm on Wednesday to receive the charge and to be arraigned the next day.

 

He added that at the time of the call, Mrs. Deffi was at Minna, Niger State and planned to return to Jos on Thursday morning despite the short notice.

 

Mr. Lere thereafter applied to receive the charge sheet on behalf of the defendant.

 

On his part, Counsel to ICPC, Mr. O. G. Iwuagwu told the Court that the prosecution was unable to serve the charge sheet on the Defendant because it got notified about the sitting on Monday and only arrived in Jos on Wednesday.

 

He however said that the Defendant was called on Tuesday as against what her lawyer said that she was only informed about the sitting on Wednesday.

 

“The Defendant had no objection to our coming to Jos from Abuja to serve her but on getting here, the story changed that she was first in Lokoja then we are hearing now that she was in Minna”.

 

Mr. Iwuagwu informed the Court that the case before it was a criminal trial and the law required that the Defendant be served in person. He however said that given the application by the Counsel to the Defendant for a substituted service, the prosecution “pray on the strength of the application to be served by substituted means on the order of the court. We also pray that the counsel to the Defendant on the strength of his application would ensure her appearance in court at the next adjourned date”

 

After listening to the submissions of the counsels, the trial judge, Justice Fwomyon ruled that the Defendant be served through a substituted means and her lawyer should ensure her presence in Court at the next adjourned date.

 

The trial was adjourned to 21st of June, 2024 for the defendant to take her plea.

 

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