By Taiye Agbaje
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, awarded N150,000 fine against Olawale Bakare, the 2nd defendant in the treasonable felony suit levelled against him and the Convener, #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu awarded the cost on account of his failure to appear in court in the ongoing trial without a genuine reason, an action the court deemed as affecting the pace of hearing the matter.
Sowore (1st defendant) and Bakare (2nd defendant) are facing a treasonable felony filed against them by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
The court had, on Jan. 25, fixed Feb. 4 and 5 for trial continuation.
However, at the resumed hearing, the two defendants were not in court.
Counsel to the defence, Marshal Abubakar, informed the court that a letter had been written to the deputy registrar of the Court, seeking vacation of the case till after Easter; that is by April.
‘It is a latter dated and filed on Jan 29 and addressed to the deputy chief registrar of the court
“As your lordship is aware, on 25th day of January, this matter was billed to go on on trial and we were ready and in court.
“However, owing to the demise of Justice Watila of Abeokuta Division, the court could not proceed.
“It was hoped that if the proceeding had gone on, we would have informed your lordship that today’s date would not be convenient for the defence,” he said.
Abubakar, who craved for the court’s indulgence, said the AGF was copied in the letter.
When Justice Ojukwu asked the whereabouts of the defendants, the lawyer said: “They are on their way.”
AGF’s Lawyer, Kayode Halilu, described the development as “very shocking and alarming that this honourable court for the second time will be waiting for these eminent defendants.”
Halilu reminded that the court awarded a N200, 000 fine against the government for lack of diligent prosecution sometimes ago.
“Now, the table has turned. Section 266 of ACJA (Administration of Criminal Justice Act) provides that a defendant shall be present in court during the whole of the trial except.
“It is an affront to this honourable court for them to stay away and still said they are on their way,” he argued.
The lawyer, who said no reason was given for the act; whether medical or otherwise, stated that he had earlier informed that the witness in the trial was not from court jurisdiction.
Halilu, who urged the court to make an order revoking the bail of the defendants and for their sureties to be invited to show cause why they should not forfeit the bail sum, also asked the court to award a cost for their act.
While the argument was ongoing, Sowore entered the courtroom.
In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu expressed her displeasure on the posture of the defence towards the lawsuit, stressing she would not condone any action that could jeopardise the pace of adjudicating on the matter.
The judge, who awarded the initial cost of N100, 000 against Bakare, refused to grant the application by the prosecution to revoke the bail of the two defendants.
Ojukwu held that writing a letter to the deputy registrar of the court was not enough reason to stay away from proceeding without the order of the court to such effect.
However, when Halilu told the court that he was ready for the trial to continue on Friday as ordered by the court, Abubakar urged the court to fix another date because the 2nd defendant, Bakare, was in Osogbo, Osun State, and might not be able to meet up for the sitting.
Abubakar also cited the present security situation in the country as reason for the court to grant the oral application.
However, Halilu said to say the defendant was in Osogbo was still a show of disrespect to the court.
He said Bakare ought to have known that there was sitting today (Thursday).
He urged the court to reconsider the earlier application that Bakare’s bail be revoked and be made to pay a fine.
Justice Ojukwu, however, awarded another fine of N50, 000 against Bakare and ordered that the N150, 000 must be paid before the next adjourned date.
She adjourned the matter until April 28 and 29 for the continuation of trial.