The ongoing trial of a PREMIUM TIMES journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, was stalled on Wednesday after the presiding magistrate died and no replacement was announced, several weeks after.
Mr Ogundipe, the newspaper’s general assignment correspondent, was arrested by the police on August 14, 2018, and was subsequently charged before Abdulwahab Mohammed at the Kubwa Grade 1 Area Court in Abuja.
Mr Mohammed granted Mr Ogundipe a bail in a case of alleged theft of secret police document on August 17. The matter was then adjourned until November 7 for commencement of trial after Mr Ogundipe pleaded not guilty in a repressive case that sparked local and international uproar.
On November 7, 2018, the matter was adjourned until January 30, based on the request of the police prosecutor who was unavailable in court.
On December 15, Mr Mohammed underwent treatment for a persistent toothache during which he developed complications and ultimately passed on after collapsing at home. He was 32. The News Agency of Nigeria reported the late jurist was survived by a pregnant wife.
He was a law graduate of the University of Ilorin and became a magistrate in 2014, according to the court’s registrar, Jimada Mohammed.
But, weeks after Mr Mohammed’s demise, judicial authorities have yet to assign another magistrate to replace him. This has left a backlog of cases to be on indefinite adjournments, including Mr Ogundipe’s.
The court’s registrar, however, tentatively gave March 8 for possible hearing on Mr Ogundipe’s matter, saying he would notify parties on all pending lawsuits on whether or not a new presiding magistrate had been posted to the court, which is managed by the Federal Capital Territory’s justice department.