Court Adjourns Case Against Sowore, Others Over Police Lack Of Preparedness To Begin Prosecution

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Magistrates’ Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned, till March 2, the trumped-up charges of criminal conspiracy and unlawful assembly brought against the former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, and four others by the police.

The Chief Magistrate, Mabel Segun-Bello, adjourned the matter following an application by the police lawyer, Edosa Samuel, that they were not prepared to run the prosecution.

Edosa said he was just making his first appearance in the case and hasn’t been fully brief on it since the case was transferred from the Force Criminal Investigation Department to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation.

The case was later transferred from the office of the Minister of Justice on the 25th of January asking them to continue with it.

He said he would need more time to be properly briefed on the matter, adding that the letter from the ministry came late to his office since he is the new prosecution in charge.

The defense counsel, Marshal Abubakar, objected to the application on the grounds that the excuse given by the prosecution was not tenable and competent.

“There is no verifiable ground to warrant the application for adjournment. We will enjoin them to withdraw the FRI in the case of withdrawal of files. No single prove of evidence has been served almost two months after they filed the FRI. We believe that they do not intend to proceed with this trial.”

Marshal, while objecting to the application, faulted the police and cited the provision of Section 396 (3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which mandated day-to-day trial of any criminal case.

He urged the police to withdraw the First Information Report bogus charges brought against his clients if they were not ready, instead of wasting the time of court.

He argued further that the application for adjournment had not been anchored on any competent reason and therefore urged the court to dismiss it.

Marshal told the court that he had not been served with a single proof of evidence two months after the trial.

He noted that the 4th defendant was on the verge of losing his job since he was restricted within Abuja. 

The defence counsel also made a case for the 3rd defendant who was a student and had not been able to return to his school at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State.

He therefore prayed the court to award the cost of N50 million each in favour of the 2nd, 4th and 5th defendants who were not residents of Abuja. 

Meanwhile, the 1st defendant (Omoyele Sowore) told the court that he could no longer afford the transportation to the FCT High Court to appear in person as part of his bail terms since he had not been working.

The magistrate, after listening to the submissions of the counsel, therefore directed the prosecution lawyer to serve the defence team all proof of evidence they relied on in the case within seven working days.

She also directed the prosecution witness to bring a statement of oath which must be filed and served on the defence not later than 48 hours before the trial date.

The chief magistrate also asked the defence counsel to come up with a special application that would accommodate the proof of evidence of the 3rd defendant and that he was truly schooling outside Abuja and same for the 5th defendant who was about to lose his job.

The court also directed that an evidence of compliance with bail terms by the 1st defendant be submitted to the court for the review of his bail conditions.

The court therefore adjourned the matter to March 2, 2021, for trial.

Sowore had been admitted to bail in the sum of N20 million with stringent terms on January 11. He was also asked to produce two sureties in like sum, one of whom must be a civil servant not below grade level 12 in the federal civil service.

The magistrate had also said Sowore must report physically to the chief registrar of the FCT High Court or any other person designated by the chief registrar every Monday and Friday morning until the end of the case.

The second, third, fourth and fifth defendants were granted bail in liberal terms with a bond of one million each.

All defendants must not travel outside Abuja metropolis or outside the country, pending the determination of the case.

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