A judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Peter Affen has charged lawyers to take proceedings seriously in criminal trials to curb delays.
Justice Affen made the call while reprimanding a defence counsel, Jonah Abari, who failed to appear in an armed robbery case before the court on the premise that he (counsel) was bereaved.
The judge noted that the matter last held on June 12, before the judges’ annual vacation, and when the matter was again called at the resumption of court activities, the defence counsel was absent in court but asked the prosecutor, Otu Urom, to apply for adjournment to October 30.
Refusing the application, Justice Affen ordered Urom to place a phone call to Abari in the open court where the judge communicated the court’s displeasure on the long adjournment. He said while the court condoled with the defence counsel, he ought to have made arrangements for the defendant to have representation in court.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to October 18.
The defendant in the case, Reagan Abaka, was charged by the police with armed robbery. The police had alleged that the defendant on May 13, 2017 at about 11:30 am conspired with an armed robbery suspect (now deceased) to commit felony, to wit: Armed robbery contrary to Section 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) 2004.
The prosecution also alleged that Abaka and the late suspect, while armed with firearms, broke into the house of one Dr Uwakwe Abugu at Gwagwalada, Abuja and robbed his household of one HP laptop; three mobile phones and two wristwatches.
A police witness had testified before the court that the late suspect had before his death identified Abaka as his colleague and it was on the strength of that that he (Abaka) was charged with the offence. The offence is contrary to Section 1(2) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap 11 LFN 2004.
Abaka pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him by the police.