The trial of Senator Bala Mohammed, the Governor-elect of Bauchi State, has been stalled as a result of the absence of the presiding judge.
Mohammed, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was scheduled for arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday before an FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja, but the court failed to sit.
Mohammed is standing trial over allegations of false declaration of assets.
Although the Governor-elect and his counsel, as well as counsel to the EFCC, were all in court on Monday, Justice Yusuf Halilu, the presiding judge, was not present.
According to the court registrar, the judge was on legal duty in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Speaking with journalists outside the court, Wahab Shittu, the EFCC counsel, debunked the claim that the trial was a political witch-hunt against the governor-elect.
He said: “It is a matter that was ongoing before another judge who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal. The expectation was that the matter would soon be reassigned to another judge.
“Just a week ago, the registry of this court sent us a notice that today (Monday) has been fixed for the re-arraignment of the defendant. It was not at the instance of the court. You know when a case is transferred to another court, it starts de novo (afresh)."