FG arraigns Sowore, Bakare on 2 count amended charge
...Court awards N200,000 against FG
The re-arraignment of the convener of #RevolutionNow campaigner, Omoleye Sowore and co defendant, Olawole Bakare, was on Wednesday stalled due to the inability of the prosecution counsel, Aminu Alilu, to serve the amended charge on all parties.
This is even as Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court Abuja, slammed a N200,000 fine on the federal government for delaying trial.
At the resumed proceedings, Wednesday, the defendants were accompanied to the court by a large crowd of sympathisers, including a Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, former Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani and former chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odikalu.
Sowore and Bakare were initially standing trial on seven count charge.
However, in the amended charge, they will be re-arraigned on a two-count charge, bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, contrary to section 516 of the Criminal Code Act,Cap . C38 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Count two reads: “Treasonable felony, contrary to section 41(a) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
When the matter was called, the prosecution counsel Aminu Alilu informed the court that the federal government has filed the amended charge but had not served it on the defendants.
He therefore requested for a short adjournment.
He said that since the matter was earlier fixed for February 12 and 13 court should oblige his request for an adjournment till Thursday , February 13, to enable him serve the defendants the processes .
In his response, the defence counsel, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), said that the trial can not commence as promised by the prosecution because they have not served the defendants with the proof of evidence and documents in line with the court earlier order.
In the circumstances he applied for the seven charge to be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
He said that the defendants who are restricted to Abuja have been subjected to severe punishments , though they have not being convicted.
He said the prosecution has exhausted the five adjournments allowed by the law and that in the interest of justice the charges should be struck out.
Olumide- Fusika (SAN) said that until the prosecution serves the defendants with the required documents, including the proof of evidence the trial will not commence.
In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu noted that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has since December 13, 2019, took over the prosecution of Sowore but only filed an amended charge on February 12, 2020.
She further observed that the prosecution has not obeyed an earlier order of the court directing him to serve all the necessary documents on the defendants.
Justice Ijeoma said the delay was uncalled for in view of the fact that the court has granted an accelerated hearing of the matter.
Stating that the delay must have consequence, she awarded N200,000 cost against the prosecution.
According to the court, the counsel must effect the payment of the cost before trial begins on Thursday (today).
She said the prosecution counsel on whose instance the matter was adjourned have exhausted his five adjournments allowed by law even when the trial has not entered into hearing.
Felix Omohomhion, Abuja