Judge cautions prosecution against delay tactics in Justice Ademola’s trial

 Justice Adeniyi Ademola

Justice Adeniyi Ademola

Justice Jude Okeke of Abuja High Court yesterday‎ expressed anger over the manner in which the prosecution was handling the trial of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, his wife and Joe Agi (SAN).

He accused the prosecution of delaying the proceedings. The three are standing trial over alleged receipt of gratification.The judge had, at the resumed trial Monday expressed worries that the prosecution appeared not ready for the trial of the accused through its actions.

He, however, cautioned that the court would no longer accept instances where the prosecution continues to delay trial.He said the court would be forced to do the “needful” should the prosecution fail to produce its witnesses at the next adjourned date.

The court consequently adjourned sitting till today against the prosecution’s application for tomorrow.The prosecution counsel had prayed the court for an adjournment till Wednesday in order to get his witnesses ready.

The counsel, Segun Jegede had told the court at the resumed hearing that he was informed by one of his witnesses, Dr. Shaibu Teidi, that his life was being threatened and that he (Teidi) had equally reported the same to the police in Maitama Division, Abuja.

Jegede added that the police has taken Teidi to a secured destination, which prevented him from coming to court.Responding, counsel to Justice Ademola, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) however objected to the information given by the prosecution on ground that such should have been communicated to him first.

In a short ruling, the court held that it was not ready to delve into the issue since it has been reported to the police, but rather urged the police to carry out its investigation on the allegation.

He also ordered the Inspector General of Police to provide security for the prosecution, its witnesses, the defence team and all their witnesses. Afterwards,Jegede prayed the court for adjournment till Wednesday to enable him present his witnesses.

But his application did not go down well with the defence team, which however strongly opposed the call for adjournment.

Ikpeazu, Roberts Clarke (SAN) and Jeph Njikonye, had unanimously contended that the prosecution should apply to withdraw the charge if it has no witness to bring.

They informed the court that the prosecution listed 14 witnesses out of which only six have been invited to testify and going by the prosecution’s information, only Teidi was alleged to have being threatened.

They therefore urged the prosecution to go ahead and call other witnesses that were not being threatened to come and testify on the matter.The defense further noted that the prosecution did not give any reason he was seeking for an adjournment and that granting of such application will portray the prosecution as being persecuting the defendants.

According to them, the pendency of the suit is hampering the dispensation of the duty of the first defendant, who is a serving judge and the second defendant who is the current Head of Service of Lagos State.

Noting that the application for adjournment was not in accordance with intendment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ‎which provides for speedy dispensation of justice, they prayed the court to refuse the application and dismiss same.

In his ruling however, the court noted that the only reason the prosecution gave to seek for adjournment was because one of his witnesses was threatened and that he wanted to get across to his witnesses.

“Apart from those reasons, the prosecution did not give any other reason. This is not acceptable to court. The record of the court showed that the matter was adjourned till today for ruling and continuation of trial.

“Prosecution has other people listed as witnesses aside Dr. Teidi, and the prosecution has not said any of the other witnesses are being threatened.
“The implication is that apart from Teidi and a staff of GTB, the prosecution is not prepared to proceed with the trial.

“This is unacceptable to the court. The court is ready to go ahead with the trial. It was on that the court granted an order of accelerated trial.“Even today, because of this case, the court this morning adjourned 11 other cases so as to hear the witnesses.

“The action of the prosecution has made the court to act in vain, especially to the defendants and other litigants that their cases were originally listed.

“The application for adjournment is uncalled for, unreasonable and does not fall in line with the attitude of the present government as contained in ACJA. It is not good enough, it is not with the spirit of time.

“On account of the foregoing, the prosecution has not given a cogent reason for the grant of the application but the court will indulge the prosecution by granting the adjournment.

“But instead of Wednesday requested for by the prosecution, I will adjourn till tomorrow and if the prosecution fails again to produce its witness, the court will do the needful. To ‘before war‎ned is to before harmed”, the Judge stated as he adjourned sitting till today.

In this article:
Adeniyi AdemolaJude Okeke
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