Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, threatened to strike out the four-year-long alleged treasonable felony case by the Federal Government against pro-democracy activist and Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore.
The judge also urged the FG’s prosecution team to get its acts together following the inability of one of its counsels, Barr. Maryam Okorie, to make clear her arguments in court on Wednesday.
The PUNCH reports that the former President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had accused Sowore of treason following his call for a protest tagged #RevolutionNow, slated for August 5, 2019, for which he was abducted at midnight on August 3, 2019, and was detained for five months by the Department of State Services.
Resuming the trial on Wednesday with the accused present in court, the FG’s counsel, Barr. Okorie made a false claim that the reason Sowore’s trial was transferred to the current Justice Nwite, was because a now-retired, Justice Anwalu Chikere was initially handling the case, and that the case was started de novo because Chikere retired.
Okorie also told the court that on the last adjourned date, the court had ordered that the hearing notice be served on the second defendant, Olawale Bakare. She, however, said that she was not aware if Bakare had been served with the notice.
The Court Registrar, however, confirmed that Bakare had not been served.
Counsel to Sowore, Mr. Marshall Abubakar, told the court that he believed the prosecution team was only trying to frustrate his client by its inability to serve the second defendant the hearing notice for him to appear in court.
Abubakar noted that he had written a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice asking that the charge be severed so that his client could take his plea and stand trial alone.
”My lord, this is the fifth year since this charge was filed, the defendant has been denied access to his family since then because he has not been allowed to travel outside the country where his family lives.
“You cannot continually and perpetually hold the man under suspicion that he committed a crime and so we will apply that this case be struck out until the prosecution is ready to prosecute it,” Abubakar said.
The prosecuting counsel, Okorie, told the court that since they had written to the minister, they would have to wait for the minister’s response to know the next line of action.
Seemingly dissatisfied by the FG counsel’s claim which led to an argument between Mr Sowore, one of his lawyers, Marshall Abubakar from Falana and Falana’s chambers, and barrister Okorie, Justice Nwite threatened to strike out the case on the next adjourned date, December 5, 2023, if the prosecution team fails to get its acts together.
Justice Nwite further ruled that he was minded to grant an adjournment on the condition that by the next adjourned date, the prosecution team (FG) would comply with the order of the court to serve the second defendant.
The judge warned that if the order of the court to serve the second defendant was not complied with, the matter would be struck out.
“If you are not ready to go on with the matter, I am sounding this as the last warning that at the next adjourned date, I will strike out the matter even if heaven falls let it fall,” Justice Nwite warned.
He therefore adjourned the matter until December 5, 2023.