Benin NBA Rejects Edo Govt’s Plan to Try Looters in Mobile Court

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By Adibe Emenyonu

The Chairman of Benin-city branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Edo State, Mr. Pius Oiwoh, has carpeted plan by the state government to set up mobile court to try suspected looters of COVID-19 palliative warehouse in Benin-city and arsonists.

The state government had planned to set up a mobile court which is supposed to be located at the premises of the state police headquarters to conduct the trial of some persons who allegedly damaged public and private properties during the recent #EndSARS protests.

But the Benin-city NBA said the government’s decision to try the suspects is unacceptable, adding that there are existing conventional courts set up to hear such matters.

Speaking on the issue yesterday in Benincity, the state capital, the chapter NBA chairman noted that using the police headquarters as the venue for the trial would compel those in charge of the mobile court to carry out the orders of the law enforcement agents, stressing that the charges cannot be heard summarily.

Besides, Oiwoh said the courts that can entertain such matters are intact, adding that using police stations as a venue for mobile court will make the court do the bidding of the police.

According to him, “These are matters that cannot be heard summarily. These are matters where for instance, the defendants may say they are not guilty and ought to be granted bail. In such instances, they will go home and the matter will be adjourned for hearing. The defendants will have an opportunity of calling his witnesses to explain to the court where they were as at that time.

“Now, when you set up a mobile court, it is with the expectation to hear them summarily guilty or not guilty, and then send them to prison. It is not supposed to be so.”