By Ayodele Oluwafemi
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Federal Government to pay the sum of N200,000 to the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore for causing adjournment in his treason trial following what the court observed as frivolous actions by the prosecution.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu postponed the trial till Thursday after the prosecution requested for an adjournment.
Justice Ojukwu noted that the trial will not continue if the prosecution refuses to pay the sum of N200,000 to the defence or come to the court with cash on Thursday.
The judge also expressed dissatisfaction towards the delay in serving the necessary court documents after seven weeks of the court judgment.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Kayode Alilu, told the court that the amendment of the charges followed the taking over of the case from the Department of State Services in December.
Defence lawyer, Mr. Olayinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), contended that the prosecution was not prepared for trial and urged the court to strike out the charges.
He said the prosecution’s request for an adjournment was frivolous and an indication of its lack of diligence in the prosecution of the case.
But Alilu opposed the application for the striking out of the charges.
He cited Section 396 (5) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2011 which he said grants parties in a criminal case to ask for an adjournment up to five times in the course of the trial, adding that the prosecution had yet to exhaust the five times.
The judge refused to strike out the case but awarded N200,000 cost against the prosecution and in favour of the defence.
Among those present in court to express solidarity with Sowore were Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka and Senator Shehu Sani.