By Molade Adegbuyi
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday imposed a fine of N200,000 on the Federal Government for causing an adjournment of the trial of Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, on frivolous grounds. Irohinoodua was informed that the fine marked a major victory for Sowore who has been in detention since August 5 last year.
The trial witnessed the presence of prominent human rights leaders, Prof Wole Soyinka, Senator Shehu Sani, Chidi Odinkalu and Deji Adeyanju amongst many others.
The presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu described the prosecution’s request for the adjournment as frivolous and uncalled for, she however postponed the trial till Thursday.
She ordered that the proceedings would not continue until the prosecution present evidence of the payment of the N200,000 to the defence or come to court with the cash on Thursday.
She frowned atthe late filing of amended charges and service of same on defence in the open court on Wednesday.
The judge is also not satisfied with the prosecution’s failure to serve all the necessary documents as ordered by the court more than seven weeks ago.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Kayode Alilu, from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, had explained to the court that the amendment of the charges followed the movement of the case from the Department of State Services in December and asked for ajournment to effect the service on the defence
On his part the defence lawyer, Mr. Olayinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), contended that the prosecution were not ready for trial and asked the court to strike out the charges.
According to him the prosecution’s request for an adjournment was frivolous and an indication of their lack of diligence in the prosecution of the case.Alilu however stand against the request for the striking out of charges
He cited Section 396 (5) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2011 which he said grants parties in a criminal case to ask for an adjournment up to five times in the course of the trial, adding that the prosecution had yet to exhaust the five times.
The judge in a ruling refused to strike out the case but awarded N200,000 cost against the prosecution and in favour of the defence.