A Federal High Court in Abuja discharged and acquitted four persons charged along with former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke with examination malpractices.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo upheld the defendants’ no-case submission and proceeded to discharge and acquit them.
The four are Sikiru Adeleke (who is said to be the senator’s relative); Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau (the Principal of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State); Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo (a school’s Registrar) and Dare Samuel Olutope (a teacher in the school).
Justice Ekwo, in the ruling, was of the view that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case has not proved the ingredients of the charge.
Ekwo further held that the burden of proof rests on the prosecution which according to him failed woefully in discharging the burden by not calling relevant witnesses.
“No witness was called from the National Examination Council (NECO) to testify throughout the trial. To worsen the situation, no eye witness was called from the school where the alleged malpractices were perpetrated,” Ekwo held.
The judge said there was no iota of the 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 were so discredited during cross-examination and so manifestly unreliable to warrant the defendants to be called upon to enter their defense in the charges against them.
“In conclusion, since the testimony of the prosecution is insufficient to warrant the defendants to open defense, I have no difficulty in upholding their no-case submission and discharge and acquit them from the charges.
“The suit is hereby dismissed,” Justice Ekwo said.
Senator Adeleke was initially charged with the current four defendants and were first arraigned in late 2018.
In the initial four-count charge, Senator Adeleke and Sikiru were accused of “fraudulently, through personation,” registered as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State to enable them 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 (IGP).
However, the prosecution amended the charge in December 2018 and raised the counts to seven, following which the defendants were re-arraigned on the amended charge on December 16, 2018.
On May 28, 2020, the prosecution applied to discontinue against Senator Adeleke, citing his prolonged absence from the country.
The Senator had reportedly travelled outside the country having earlier been granted leave by the court to travel abroad on health grounds.
In a ruling on May 29, 2020, Justice Ekwo granted the prosecution’s application and proceeded to discharge and acquit the politician, leaving the remaining four as defendants in the case.