Monday, August 15, 2022

Sowore: Put your house in order, court tells Nigerian govt

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Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday ordered the counsel from the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office to put their house in order in the trial of Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement.

Mr Sowore, is charged with treason and money laundering, alongside Olawale Bakare.

Justice Ojukwu, gave the order after the prosecution failed to produce detailed witness statement.

The judge questioned why the prosecution just realised the need to protect their witnesses bearing in mind that the witnesses were not new witnesses and people the court did not know.

She, however, called on the Prosecution witness, leaving the witness protection motion on hold.

Justice Ojukwu said that a witness statement ought to contain all the witness was aware of in the case and was expected to give evidence under investigation and not otherwise.

The Justice Ojukwu said: ”A witness can’t give four paragraphs in his statement and then give like 10 pages while in court.

“This is a component of fair trial and you want them to cros- examine on evidence not before them.

“The court will not allow that. So serve the defence with all the evidence you want to rely on and I am not saying you should limit the evidence,” she said.

The Judge advised the prosecution to go back and reproduce their evidence, serve on the defence in order to fast track hearing and to use the adjourned duration to do all they have to do because the  matter was not going as fast as it ought to.

Justice Ojukwu adjourned for continuation of trial until April 1 and April 2.

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Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel told the court that he had applied for a motion dated and filed on March 5, 2020 seeking for the protection of witnesses in the case.

“Documents were forwarded to me and the witnesses expressed fear so I had to file for their protection,” he said.

The Prosecution however, said that a counter affidavit by the defence counsel was brought to his knowledge while in court which informed him that he had been earlier served through the office of the AGF but was unaware.

During the trial, Sowore’s Counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, objected to the prosecution witness,Mr Rasheed Olawale, from speaking outside what was in his witness statement.

“The witness is giving evidence outside his written evidence and it makes mockery of the essence of serving us with witness statement. “If he is allowed to give evidence on matters not in the quote, then in a way, the defence is being ambushed.

“We apply that the court limits the witness to his statement as nothing has been added to the statement served to us on March 9, 2020,” he said.

While giving evidence, PW1 said that on Aug.3, 2019, he was directed to arrest Sowore.

“We moved to a hotel at GRA, Ikeja,Lagos, at about 1am and when we got to the place we met with the security guard who opened the entrance gate.

“We introduced ourselves as DSS and requested to see the receptionist after which we requested to be taken to his room where he lodged after we had identified ourselves.

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“On getting there, we arrested him and took him to the office but was subsequently transferred to the DSS national headquarters in Abuja.

“Prior the day of the arrest, we received an intelligence report that Sowore planned to carry out a revolution on Aug. 5, 2019 by revolting alongside his associates against the democratic government of the federal republic of Nigeria throughout the federation.

“Intelligence report also revealed that on a particular day at Maryland, Lagos before his arrest, he was there with his associates making graphics inscription on Maryland bridge taggged #revolutionnow,” he said.

Mr Olawale said that according to the intelligence report his office received, Sowore was once at Maryland sensitizing people on the need to be aware of Aug. 5, 2019.

He said that part of the sensitization and rally claimed that the government of the day will cease to exist through revolution now procession.

Mr Falana said that the defence counsels once protested and demanded for full statements of witnesses.

He recalled that the court ruled ordering that the prosecution provided the defence with the full statement of the witnesses.

He however said that the prosecution was not in the position to over-rule the court through it’s witness.

Prosecution Counsel, Alilu Aliyu said that the prosecution had been guided with Section 379 (1) paragraph A (3) of the  Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which talks about serving of witness summary statement as seen in the case.

“They have the opportunity to cross examine him on whatever testimony he gives the court. “He is testifying to what he knows so we object to the discontinuance and liken in merit as it will not lead to any miscarriage of justice,” he said.

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Responding, Mr Falana said that Section 379 provides for summary but  that stage had been long crossed.

“What he is asking the court to do is outside even his own summary because the witness statement has only 4 paragraphs and on relying on the summary, there is no relevance to Maryland, graphics or sensitizing people.

“A summary of what he said was that he effected arrest, seized the phones of Sowore and brought him to Abuja.

“He should be restricted otherwise this would be the attitude of the prosecution in respect to other witnesses.

“We want to know what to meet in court in order to be prepared and if the defendant is convicted, that’s life imprisonments so he is entitled to know the totality of the case because this is not a civil matter,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defence counsel acknowledged additional proof of evidence presented to them by the prosecution.

He said that in total the defence had been provided with 20 video clips, recordings and electronic materials of the witnesses.

NAN also reports that on Feb. 13, 2020 Justice Ojukwu had directed the prosecution to avail the defence the video clips and electronic materials needed in the case as requested by the defence.



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