By Taiye Agbaje
A Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed May 31 for report of settlement in a suit filed by the office of Attorney-General of Federation (AGF) against Managing Director (MD), Dana Air, Hathiramani Ranesh.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu fixed the date on Wednesday following an oral application for adjournment by counsel to the AGF, M. Okeya.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that though the prosecution counsel was in court when the matter was called, neither Mr Ranesh nor his lawyer was in court.
The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/101/21 which was on number 10 on the day’s cause list, was for the arraignment of Ranesh and two others.
Upon resumed hearing in the case, Okeya told Justice Egwuatu that the parties in the suit were exploring settlement option.
The lawyer, who informed that a sister case was also before a Lagos court, said the matter would be coming up later in the year.
She, however, sought a longer date for a report on the outcome of settlement and the judge consequently adjourned the case until May 31 for a report.
Egwuatu had, on Oct. 13, 2022, adjourned the matter until Jan. 25 for arraignment of the defendants following the absence of Mr Ranesh and the prosecution lawyer in court.
However, Ranesh’s counsel, Ade Adedeji, SAN, was in court and he hinted that the prosecution and the defence were exploring reconciliation.
NAN reports that since the commencement of the matter, Dana Air MD had not been present in court.
On June 30, 2021, when the matter came up, while other defendants were in court, Ranesh was absent.
Adedeji had told the court that the absence of his client in court was to the knowledge of the prosecution.
When the matter was called, Adedeji, said he was in court to represent Ranesh after they were served with the notice of arraignment.
The lawyer had told the court that his client was not in the country.
“The charge before this honourable court is a serious matter.
“We came in from Lagos just to come and explain to your lordship the circumstances that informed our acceptance of service without knowing that the date is coming so soon.
“We didn’t know before we accepted it. We have an option not to accept this but as officer in the temple of justice, we felt we are under obligation to accept on his (Ranesh’s) behalf.
“But to the knowledge of counsel to the prosecution, the principal defendant is not in the country which was made known to the prosecution.
“It is on the basis of these circumstances that we shall be appealing to your lordship for an adjournment my lord to enable the defendant appear before this honourable court,” he had said.
Counsel to the AGF, Wilson Michelangelo, did not oppose the request for an adjournment, and the judge fixed Oct. 13, 2021, for arraignment of the suspects.
On Oct. 13, 2021 when the matter came up, Justice Egwuatu was said to be on official engagement in Lagos State and the matter could not proceed.
Although counsel who appeared for the AGF, Moshood A., and lawyer to the defendant, Adedeji, SAN, were in court, Mr Ranesh was not.
NAN reports that the court then fixed Feb. 15, 2022 for the arraignment of Mr Ranesh and two other defendants in the matter and on the adjourned date, the case was also fixed for May 26, 2022 for arraignment.