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Sowore’s trial: Court orders FG to pay fine of N200,000

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By Seun DUROJAIYE and Nneoma BENSON


AGAIN, the Federal Government stalled the hearing of the case involving Omoyele Sowore/Olawale Bakare when the court sat on Wednesday at the Federal High Court, Abuja. 

As early as 8 o’clock in the morning, a group of protesters stormed the court premises to show solidarity for Sowere and Bakare, who are both standing trial on a seven-count charge of treasonable felony, fraud, cyberstalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.

Protesters and supporters of Omoyele Sowere and Bakare stormed Federal High Court Abuja on Wednesday.
Photo: The ICIR

The likes of Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka; former chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu; former Senator, Shehu Sani and activist, rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, were also present in court in solidarity with the defendants.

At about 10:31 am, the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu commenced the proceeding. After introductions of both counsels, the chief state counsel, A.A Aliyu, claimed that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has amended the charges against the defendants and as such sought an adjournment in order to tender the fresh charges to activate proceedings in the court.

Justice Ojukwu in response expressed disappointment in the manner in which the prosecution has been handling the case which it had taken over since December 2019.

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Reacting to the prayer of the prosecution, lead defense counsel, Olumide Fusika, reiterated the unpreparedness of the state counsel and prayed that the case be struck out of court until the prosecuting counsel was well prepared to serve fresh charges and thus begin the trial proceedings.

Fusika further argued that it is not “right that a citizen of this country is charged to court, paraded in the media and when it is time for the government to prove itself, they are dragging the matter.”

He accused the government of subjecting the defendants to punishment before conviction.

“He [Sowore] is a family man he has not seen his children and his wife, since August last year. He has no house here, but for the support of well-wishers, he would have been sleeping under the bridge,” Fusika argued.

Countering the prayer of the defense counsel, Aliyu, raised the prayer for adjournment, promising that the fresh charges against the defendants would be served and the case would begin on Thursday as their witnesses are ready to testify.

For its ‘unpreparedness’, Justice Ojukwu, therefore, ordered the prosecuting counsel to pay a fine N200,000 to the defendants by the next hearing on Thursday.

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The case was thus adjourned to Thursday, February 13.

Aliyu told journalists that the trial would begin on Thursday as he had stated earlier, assuring them that the charges would be served and proceedings would commence.

 

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