The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed the charges of examination malpractices allegedly perpetrated in favour of Ademola Adeleke, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last governorship election in Osun State.
Mr Adeleke, who lost the September 22, 2018 election to the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, was originally arraigned along with four other defendants on October 31, 2018.
But the trial judge, Inyang Ekwo, later struck Mr Adeleke’s name from the seven charges following a request by the prosecuting lawyer, Simon Lough, on May 29, 2020.
Delivering a ruling on the no-case submission filed by the rest of the four defendants on Tuesday, Mr Ekwo held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
He ruled that the prosecution failed to prove the ingredients of the charges, adding that it “woefully” failed to discharge the burden of proof required in the case by not calling relevant witnesses.
The judge ruled, “No witness was called from the National Examination Council (NECO) to testify throughout the trial.
“To worsen the situation, no eyewitness was called from the school where the alleged malpractices were perpetrated.”
The judge further held that there was no iota of evidence of conspiracy supplied to the court by the police to establish that the four defendants conspired to commit the alleged malpractices.
He added, “In all the evidence of the five witnesses was so discredited during cross-examination and so manifestly unreliable to warrant the defendants to be called upon to enter their defence in the charges against them.
“In conclusion, since the testimony of the prosecution is insufficient to warrant the defendants to open defence, I have no difficulty in upholding their no-case submission and discharge and acquit them from the charges.
“The suit is hereby dismissed.”
The police had, in 2018, arraigned Mr Adeleke along with Sikiru Adeleke (who is said to be the senator’s relative), Aregbesola Mufutau (the school principal), Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo (a school registrar) and Dare Samuel Olutope (a teacher) on a four count charge bordering on examination fraud.
The charges were later amended and scaled up to seven counts.
The school officials were also accused of fraudulently registering Mr Adeleke and Mr Sikiru Adeleke, as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, in Ojo-Aro in Osun State, for the National Examination Council’s June/July 2017 Senior School Certificate Examination in February 2017.
They were also accused of impersonating “as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School when you fraudulently registered as internal students of the school in the June/July, 2017 NECO, and having registered, conspired with unknown persons now at large to write the examination for them.”
The prosecution also alleged that Messrs Ademola and Sikiru Adeleke were not only fraudulently registered but were also “awarded them seven credits, one pass and five credits respectively, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 10(a) and punishable under section 3 of the Examination Malpractices Act Cap E15 LFN 2004.”
The prosecution said the offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under the various provisions of the Examination Malpractices Act Cap E15 LFN 2004.
Adeleke’s name removed from charges
On May 29, 2020, the prosecution applied to the court to strike off the name of Mr Adeleke from the charges.
Mr Lough said his decision to have Adeleke’s name removed from the charges was because of his continued absence from court.
Mr Adeleke stopped attending court after the court’s ruling of May 6, 2019 permitting him to travel to the United States of America on health grounds.
He was ordered to return to the country by June 7, 2019, but never appeared in court again.
The court granted the request to remove Mr Adeleke’s name from the charges and the police subsequently re-arraigned the remaining four defendants on seven counts.
The police later closed their case after calling five witnesses.
The defendants then filed a no-case submission which was upheld by the court in its ruling on Tuesday.
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