By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday slammed a fine on the federal government for forcing an adjournment on the court in the trial of the publisher of saharareporters, Omoyele Sowore, and his codefendant, Olawale Bakare.
Sowore and Bakare are standing trial on alleged treasonable felony charges they were said to have committed last year.
While Sowore was arrested for calling for a nationwide protest against the Buhari administration through his #RevolutionNow protest, Bakare was arrested for allegedly participating in the said protest which held in parts of the country last August.
They were admitted to bail and the trial judge adjourned on December 6, 2019 till February 11, 2020 for commencement of trial.
When the matter was called, the federal government through its counsel, A. K. Alilu, asked the court for an adjournment to enable him serve the amended charge on the defendants.
However, in a short ruling, the trial judge who held that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) took charge of the matter in December 2019, observed that it took the prosecutor seven weeks to decide whether to amend the charges or not.
“The application for adjournment is frivolous, although each party is entitled to five adjournments but by virtue of section 396 subsection 6 of the ACJA, the prosecution has earned the cost of N200 thousand against them to be paid to the defendant.
“They can either make the payment today or tomorrow in open court,” Justice Ojukwu held.
She subsequently adjourned till February 13 for commencement of trial.
Meanwhile, noble laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and other human rights activists such as former boss of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, and Senator Shehu Sani appeared in court to show solidarity with the defendants.