by ISE-OLUWA IGE
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has again threatened to throw out terrorism charge filed by the Federal Government against Senator Ali Ndume for want of diligent prosecution.
In the charge, Ndume was accused of concealing information and sponsoring activities of the dreaded Islamic sect.
At several adjournments in the past, the prosecution had failed to call its witnesses, which the trial judge found frustrating.
Yesterday, the trial was again stalled as the prosecution failed to produce its witness in court.
The prosecution was expected to call its last witness yesterday in continuation of trial in the case after the matter was adjourned on April 29.
The prosecution witness was to give evidence based on the call data and other inputs on mobile phones tendered as exhibits before the court.
However, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. G. N. Okafor informed the court that its “expert witness” had taken ill and was unable to be in court.
As a result, she sought an adjournment to enable her produce the witness at the next adjourned date.
Reacting to the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, the defence’s counsel, Chief Rickey Tarfa, SAN expressed displeasure at the request and left the application at the court’s discretion.
Delivering a bench ruling on their submissions, the trial judge, Justice Kolawole agreed with Tarfa’s position.
He said: “The opportunity for today’s (yesterday) proceedings was dashed because the prosecution suddenly took ill and is unable to come to court.
“Because there is no medical report produced to support the claim, I found the excuse of ill-health almost improbable.
“But I have already indicated that I will oblige the prosecution the adjournment sought,” he said.
Justice Kolawole, however, warned that in the event that the prosecution would be constrained to make another application for adjournment, it should be prepared to persuade the court to grant such request.
He noted further that he was mindful of exercising his judicial discretion in the matter owing to the political status of the accused person who is a serving senator.
The judge described the Nigerian society as “incredulous”, as it would read meanings into the (court’s) decision if the matter were to be struck out or the defence closed, assuring that the court would not be deterred by such permutations to indicate a proper exercise of a judicial discretion which it has.
The matter was adjourned till July 2 for continuation of trial.
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