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Incessant Adjournments: Court Threatens To Strike Out FG's Suit Against Ndume

By thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, June 10, (THEWILL) – Apparently frustrated by the incessant application for adjournment in the case filed against Senator Ali Ndume by the Federal Government at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, Wednesday, threatened to strike out the charge for want of diligent prosecution.

The Federal Government had dragged Ndume, a serving Senator from Borno State, before the court presided by Justice Kolawole on charges bordering on terrorism and sponsorship of Boko Haram .

He was subsequently arraigned before the court on December 12, 2013 on a four-count charge by the Department of State Services (DSS).

Ndume, who is also accused of sponsoring Boko Haram sect, and failing to disclose the cell phone number of one Konduga, a Boko Haram leader, alleged to be in his (Ndume's) possession, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

When the matter came up for hearing again on Wednesday, the trial judge expressed frustration at the several adjournments granted in the past even as the prosecution was again stalled as the prosecution failed to produce its witness in court.

According to the court schedule, the prosecution was expected to call its witness Wednesday in continuation of trial after the matter was adjourned on April 29.

The prosecution witness was expected to give evidence based on the call data and other inputs on mobile phones tendered as exhibits before the court.

But when the case was called for hearing, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. G. N. Okafor , again shocked the court as she informed that the “expert witness” had taken ill and was unable to physically appear in court. She therefore applied for an adjournment to enable her produce the witness at the next adjourned date.

In his reaction to the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, the defence’s counsel, Chief Rickey Tarfa, SAN , expressed displeasure at the request and left the application at the court’s discretion.

The trial judge, Justice Kolawole, while ruling on the prosecution's application, agreed with Tarfa’s position.

Expressing frustration at the development, Justice Kolawole said: “The opportunity for today’s (yesterday) proceedings was dashed because the prosecution suddenly took ill and is unable to come to court.

“Because there is no medical report produced to support the claim, I found the excuse of ill-health almost inprobable.

“But I have already indicated that I will oblige the prosecution the adjournment sought,” he said.

He, however, warned that if the prosecution would be constrained to make another application for adjournment, it should be prepared to persuade the court to grant such request in its favour.

Maintaining that he was mindful of exercising his judicial discretion in the matter owing to the political status of the accused person who is a serving senator, Justice Kolawole described the Nigerian society as “incredulous”, as it would read meanings into its the (court’s) decision if the matter were to be dismissed or the defence closed.

He nonetheless assured that he would not be deterred by such permutations to indicate a proper exercise of a judicial discretion which the court has as he adjourned the matter till July 2 for continuation of the trial.

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