© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Sowore’s trial: FG pays N200,000 fines, as court strikes out 7-count charge
THE defence counsel of human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, on Thursday confirmed the payment of N200,000, a sum ordered to be paid by the federal government to the defendants as a cost for delaying trial proceedings.
The prosecuting counsel led by A.A Aliyu informed the court at the commencement of the trial of its compliance, announcing the availability of evidence in court.
Recall that on Wednesday, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, the presiding judge, had ordered that the sum of N200,000 be paid to the defendant by the next hearing on Thursday.
This was due to ‘unpreparedness’ on the side of the prosecutors to serve the defendants fresh charges since it took over last year December.
The prosecuting counsel, Aliyu had prayed for an adjournment in order to tender fresh charges to activate proceedings in the court, claiming that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has amended the charges against the defendants.
Justice Ojukwu expressed disappointment in the manner in which the prosecution handled the case, while the lead defence counsel, Olumide Fusika, prayed that the case is struck out of court pending the readiness of the prosecutors to serve fresh charges.
Aliyu, however, raised the prayer for adjournment, promising that fresh charges against the defendants would be served and the case would begin on Thursday as their witnesses are ready to testify.
In the hearing on Thursday, the prosecutors had filed a two-count charge, bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony and treasonable felony against the defendants.
Particulars of the offence also included a conspiracy to stage protest aimed at ousting President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
However, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The defence counsel, Abdul Mahmud, however, informed the court that the prosecutors had served them a summary statement of four witnesses and as such, do not comply with the order of the court.
“The witness statement the prosecuting counsel intends to use hasn’t been served to the defence team and as such there’s nothing to defend.
“Statement refers to video clips, tape-recorded materials, all of which defence has no knowledge about. Oblige prosecuting counsel purge itself of its sins and serve appropriate witness statement,” the defence argued.
The witnesses including Moses Amadi, Usman Baffa, Paul Okafor, Clement Paul (Financial analyst/investigator) are all summary statements according to Mahmud and, do not comply with the order of the court.
Mahmud also argued that the prosecutors had evidence on tape which should be played in the open court, adding that the statement was not different from what was earlier served.
In his response, the prosecuting counsel, Aliyu, said the defence does not need volumes of documents, as witnesses might only come to testify for few minutes.
He said no witness would be presented that has not been served “and the statement given to the defence team is the requirement of the law in the Criminal of Justice Act”.
After hearing all sides, Justice Ojukwu, struck out the seven-count charge filed on September 20, 2019, as requested by the prosecuting counsel and admitted the amended two-count-charge submitted by the prosecution.
Aliyu, however, demanded two weeks to produce video clips and tape recording materials and every other document to the defence counsel.
The defence also demanded the same duration to study materials that would be provided.
Justice Ojukwu thereafter adjourned the case until March 11, 12, 13th for definite trial.