Justice Gabriel Kolawole, the trial judge in the case between a serving senator, Ali Ndume, and the Federal government, has threatened to discharge and acquit the senator for what he referred to as the delay tactics being introduced by the federal government to stall the trial.
Mr. Kolawale made the threat when counsel for the prosecution, Cliff Osagie, who appeared on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Olufunmilayo Fatunde, for the second time, asked for the adjournment of the commencement of the trial.
Mr. Osagie told the court that the DPP was away for an important national assignment and could not make it to court. He asked for a ‘short adjournment’.
Counsel to Mr. Ndume, A. A Vangos, did not object to the request of the prosecution counsel but complained about the seeming delay tactics being introduced by the prosecution team to delay the trial.
The judge agreed with Mr. Vangos and asked the prosecution team to be serious with the trial or he would have no option but to discharge and acquit the accused.
“Tell the DPP that if she is not ready I will discharge the suspect and that will be the end of the matter. If the state is not ready to prosecute the accused person, withdraw the charges and go to another place.”
Justice Kolawale said the federal government always has the habit of appearing eager to prosecute people on high profile cases only to lose interest once the real trial begins.
“A trend one has noticed from the bench is that the state is always so anxious, perhaps too nervous, to arraign accused persons in high profile criminal cases such as this with a lot of media blitz, but when it gets to the nitty gritty of the real trial, the excitement and eagerness wanes. I have made the point to Mr. Osagie that this court is so flooded with many cases that it has no time, resources or energy, to spare for cases that are not to be prosecuted immediately,” Mr. Kolawole said.
When the trial commenced on 19 December last year, the court had made an order for accelerated hearing before it adjourned the matter to February 2, 7 and 14, 2012 for trial.
The judge granted the request of the prosecution and adjourned the matter to March 21 and 28, and April 10, 2012 for definite trial.