U.S. Court Postpones Abidemi Rufai’s Fraud Trial, As Prosecution Files Fresh Evidence

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A United States court has postponed the trial of a Nigerian politician, Abidemi Rufai, who faces charges of $350,000 fraud, until May 31, this year, as the prosecution filed fresh evidence fraud against him.

Mr Rufai, a suspended aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, has been in detention since his arrest in New York in May 2021.

The U.S government arraigned him on 15 counts of fraud and identity theft at the District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma, on June 25, 2021.

He is accused of using the identities of more than 100 Washington residents to steal more than $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

His lawyers, in January, sought the second rescheduling of his trial from February 1, 2022, to May, in quest of more time to review available evidence with his client, and for further negotiation with the U.S. government.

The judge, Benjamin Settle of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma, granted the defendant’s request on January 11.

Mr Settle postponed the trial until May 31, 2022, although the defence suggested May 17.

It was the second postponement of the case within months.

The judge had, earlier on August 3, 2021, issued an order shifting the trial originally slated for August 31, 2021, to February 1, 2022.

Both the prosecution and the defence jointly applied for the earlier postponement, anchoring their agreed request on “the voluminous and complex” nature of the evidence submitted by the government.

The judge had acceded to the request and postponed the trial till February 1, 2022.