By Alex Enumah
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, yesterday discharged and acquitted four persons accused alongside the former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, standing trial for alleged involvement in examination malpractices.
Justice Ekwo freed the defendants from the seven-amended-count-charge while delivering a ruling in their no-case submission against the suit.
The Police, in 2018, had arraigned Adeleke along with Sikiru Adeleke (who is said to be the senator’s relative), Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau (the school principal), Gbadamosi Ojo (a school registrar) and Dare Olutope (a teacher) on a four-count charge bordering on examination fraud.
However, the court had last year freed Adeleke from the charges after it was withdrawn by the police.
The police predicated their action on the grounds that Adeleke had failed to make himself available for the trial since he was granted leave to travel abroad on medical grounds on May 19, 2019.
The police then prayed the court to sever the charge to exclude Adeleke from the trial and arraigned the remaining four on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy.
After calling five witnesses, the police closed its case, which led to the filing of a no-case submission by the defendants.
In his ruling on the no-case submission, Justice Ekwo held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case having not proved the ingredients of the charge.
Ekwo further held that the burden of proof rest on the prosecution, which failed to call relevant witnesses.
“No witness was called from the National Examination Council (NECO) to testify throughout the trial. To worsen the situation, no eyewitness was called from the school where the alleged malpractices were perpetrated,” Ekwo said.
Besides, the judge said there were no ingredients of conspiracy supplied to the court by the police to establish that the four defendants conspired to commit the alleged malpractices.
“In all, the evidence of the five witnesses was so discredited during cross-examination and so manifestly unreliable to warrant the defendants to be called upon to enter their defence in the charges against them.
“In conclusion, since the testimony of the prosecution is insufficient to warrant the defendants to open defence, I have no difficulty in upholding their no-case submission and discharge and acquit them from the charges. The suit is hereby dismissed”, the judge stated.
In the charge, Ademola and Sikiru were accused of fraudulently, through personation, registering as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State to enable them to sit for the National Examinations Council (NECO) examination of June/July 2017.
The other three defendants were accused of aiding the commission of the alleged offence, in the charge filed in the name of the Inspector General of Police.