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Falana Wants Trial Of Leadership Journalists Suspended
An Abuja High Court will today decide whether or not to suspend indefinitely a case brought against two Leadership Newspapers journalists by the federal government.
Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe are standing trial for alleged forgery and felony.
Defence counsel, Femi Falana had with the consent of the court requested the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan to appear as witness in the case.
“I have a subpoena on the president of the republic and the court has graciously signed the subpoena,” he declared.
Falana further argued: “No process of any court requiring or compelling the attendance in court of a government official covered by the immunity clause can proceed until such official ceases to enjoy immunity,” according to section 308 of the 1999 constitution.
He said that since the president could not be compelled to appear in court during his time in office, the case should be suspended indefinitely.
The defence counsel said granting of the application would place the defendants in a proper standing to defend the case, according to section 36, subsection 6 of the constitution.
“Having regards to Section 36 sub-section 6 of the constitution, an accused person shall be entitled to adequate time and resources for the preparation of his defence,” he stated.
However, prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, opposed Falana’s application on the ground that the motion was not ripe for consideration.
“I was served with the application yesterday at 4.30 p.m. and I am opposing it because it is not yet ripe for hearing,” he countered.
Awomolo said further that the case in hand is a criminal trial between the federal republic of Nigeria and the accused persons and that the president is not a complainant in the matter.
He maintained that in a criminal matter, the accused cannot be on the same pedestal with the prosecution, adding that the defence counsel proposing the president as a defence witness would not affect prosecution of the case.
“The tenure of the application is that the president is required as a proposed witness of the accused persons; his presence is not required for prosecution of the case,” Awomolo argued, adding: “When it is time for them to open defence, they can make this kind of application, but for now the prosecution has a duty to proceed with trial.”
The presiding judge, Justice U. Musale said the matter required adequate care before ruling could be given and adjourned the case till July 17.