The trial of a Nigerian senator, Elisha Abbo, caught on camera assaulting a woman in Abuja has been adjourned till August 20.
The magistrate court where Mr Abbo is facing trial on Monday postponed its hearing to that date, after asking the prosecution to provide evidence against the accused.
Mr Abbo, who represents Adamawa North senatorial district, was arraigned at the magistrate court in Kubwa, Abuja, after a video indicating he assaulted the woman went viral.
In the video, first published by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Abbo descended on the woman after she pleaded with him not to physically assault a shopowner whom the senator had accused of insulting him. He said the shopowner called him a drunk.
Calls for Mr Abbo to be arrested and prosecuted intensified following this paper’s publication of the video.
Mr Abbo’s trial began on July 8 at the court where he was granted bail with a bond of N5 million.
The senator is facing a charge on two counts of criminal assault.
How the assault occurred
Mr Abbo, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had entered the shop at about 6:00 p.m. on May 11, a Saturday. The senator walked in with three young women to purchase adult toys, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
But shortly after they began shopping for the toys, one of the three girls brought in by Mr Abbo started throwing up. She vomited multiple times, prompting the ship-owner to remark that the woman should have vomited outside and not inside her shop, especially since she was not a child.
Mr Abbo, who was said to be agitated by the sudden illness of one of his girls, was said to have accused the shop-owner of poisoning the store’s air conditioner.
The shopowner’s argument that if the air-conditioner had been contaminated, others in the shop would have also taken ill further angered Mr Abbo, and the two began exchanging words over the matter.
In the first five minutes of the 10-minute video obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Abbo is seen sitting on a generator near the entrance of the shop. He could be heard within this time making calls and asking some people where they were and how close they were.
Just before the end of the first half of the video, an armed police officer walked in. Mr Abbo explained to the officer in Hausa that the woman insulted him and that he had called the assistant inspector-general (AIG) over the matter, who then assured him that he would call the police commissioner to call the Maitama Area Command. He also said he was disappointed in the shop-owner, with whom he said he had been friends for five years.
Mr Abbo, 41, said the police officer should take the shop-owner away. The shop-owner quickly called her father to inform him that Mr Abbo had called the police over the matter and that she was about to be taken away.
Mr Abbo asked the shop-owner to stop the call because he was talking to her, a demand the woman refused to accede to. Another man could be seen coming from behind the police officer to snatch the shopowner’s phone from her.
Next, the shopowner’s friend who had been standing nearby tried to intervene by pleading with the second man to take things easy.
“Oga, please take it easy now,” she said.
Mr Abbo swiftly descended on the shopowner’s friend, saying she was “very stupid” and slapping her repeatedly, including directly on the eyes.
The senator then demanded that the two women should be taken to the police station. He repeatedly told the shop-owner that he was disappointed in her for calling him a drunk, and that he would have harmed her more and closed down the shop but for their friendship.
PREMIUM TIMES learned that the assaulted woman, who is nursing a child, was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for eye inflammation and other injuries she sustained during the attack.
Mr Abbo has since apologised publicly for the assault and pledged to ensure such does not happen again.