Crime/DefenseLegal/Judiciary

Alleged N2.1bn fraud: Judge summons former NHIS boss, Dr Femi Thomas

The former Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Dr Olufemi Martins Thomas, has been summoned to appear before the court to answer to the N2.1bn fraud charge slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The order to appear before the court was issued by Justice Ayokunle Faji of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.

The judge arrived at the decision sequel to Thomas’ absence at the resumption of proceedings in the case on Thursday (yesterday).

It would be recalled that Dr Femi Thomas is facing trial alongside Kabiru Sidi, a Bureau De Change operator, on an amended seven-count charge bordering on money laundering.

Meanwhile, the case has suffered several adjournments since March 30, 2020, when the court dismissed Thomas’ no-case submission and ordered him to open his defence.

While proceedings continued yesterday, Dr Femi Thomas’ lawyer, Kunle Gbolahan was in court, but the second defendant’s lawyer was not.

However, counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho who noted that the day’s proceedings were for the 1st defendant to open his defence, blamed the defence for the several delays in proceedings.

The Commission’s lawyer particularly posited that the defendants seemed to always come up with one reason or the other to stall proceedings.

Iheanacho expressed sadness that he had to travel to and from Abuja for each court date, accusing the defendants of holding everyone to ransom.

He stated that he would have applied for the revocation of the defendants’ bail, but for the explanation of the counsel to the 1st defendant who approached him in the morning, explaining that they were not aware of the day’s trial date.

Iheanacho issued a threat to make a formal application for revocation of the defendants’ bail and issuance of bench warrants for their arrest.

In defending himself, counsel to the 1st defendant apologised to the court for Thomas’ absence, adding that he was only aware of the 24 and 26th November dates and not the day’s proceedings.

Responding, the Judge warned the defendants not to take the court for granted.

The matter has been adjourned till December 3, 2021.

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