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Alleged treason: Court again threatens to strike out Sowore’s case

by Nike
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Alleged treason: A judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Emeka Nwite, has again threatened to strike out the treasonable felony charge filed against Sahara Reporters publisher and human rights activist, Mr Omoyele Sowore.

The judge who said this was the last warning he would be giving the prosecuting team with regard to the manner in which they were handling the prosecution of the matter said the matter would be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the matter was slated for re-arraignment of the defendants on Wednesday but when the matter was called, only Sowore was present in court.

The prosecuting counsel, Mrs A.R Tahir told the court that she took over prosecution of the case from the former prosecutor, Mariam Okorie and needed time to peruse the case file in order to handle the matter properly.

“My lord, on the cause list, the case is slated for plea, however, the previous counsel handling the matter has been posted out of the ministry.

“In view of the seriousness of the offense, I will be asking for a short date to enable me study the matter in order to diligently prosecute the case.”

In response, Sowore ‘s counsel, Mr Marshal Abubakar opposed the application for an adjournment and reminded the judge that he had said he would strike out the matter if the prosecution failed to keep its house in order.

“We will be vehemently opposing the application for an adjournment and addressing the court on the need to strike out this case,” Abubakar said.

Speaking on behalf of the 2nd defendant who was absent in court, his lawyer, Mr O.U Ugo told the court that all attempts to reach the 2nd defendant , Olawale Bakare were still unsuccessful.

At this point, the prosecuting counsel prayed the court to issue a bench warrant on Bakare.

To this again, Abubakar opposed on the grounds that a bench warrant cannot be issued on someone who has never appeared in court.
“We oppose the application for a bench warrant. You cannot ask the court to make an order against a man that has never been produced before this court.
“They should first of all produce him in court for him to take his plea and if he jumps bail then they can ask for a bench warrant.
“Apart from that, on what basis will the court be issuing the bench warrant; How does the court even know that the 2nd defendant exists?”

In spite of being represented by counsel, Sowore took permission from the judge to address the court.

“My Lord, they are only interested in keeping me in Nigeria. They are not interested in this case.
“We applied that the charge be severed so I can take my plea but the prosecution opposed saying they must try us together and nobody knows the whereabouts of the 2nd defendant.

“My Lord, you just struck out a case now on the grounds that there is no diligent prosecution, why not take a bold step and strike out my case too?

” Since this matter started I have been consistent in court, I am not going anywhere. Strike it out and when they are ready, I will come back and face my trial.

“I have not seen my family since this case began for over five years now, my lord I think this case is just a waste of your time because they have not even served any evidence against me,” Sowore told the court.

In his ruling, Justice Nwite said that since on the last adjourned date, he had made an order that the 2nd defendant be served which had been complied with since his counsel was in court, he would give the prosecution a last warning.

“This is the last warning I am giving, if on the next adjourned date the complainant does not do the needful by providing the 2nd defendant or trying the 1st defendant separately, I will strike out this matter.”

He adjourned the case until April 15.

NAN reports that the Federal Government dragged Sowore and Bakare to court on allegations of treason and attempts to overthrow the former president.

NAN reports that on Nov. 23, 2023, Justice Nwite threatened to strike out the case against Sowore if the prosecution failed to put its house in order.

NAN reports that the matter was slated for re-arraignment of the defendants but when the matter was called, only Sowore was present in court.

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