A court, on Monday, discharged four out of the six #EndSARS protesters who were charged with unlawful assembly in November 2020.
The police had arrested them while they were peacefully demonstrating along with many others in front of the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
The Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, gave the order terminating the case against four of the defendants on the grounds of lack of diligent prosecution of the case by the police.
The four defendants – Olutosin Adeniji, Abdusalam Zubarur, Paul Akinwumi, and Devour Chomo – were present at Monday’s proceedings, while the two others – Yasidu Bashiru and Kabiru Garzali – were absent.
The defence lawyer, Henry Akwaji, had earlier on Monday applied for the dismissal of the case, following the absence of the prosecution team from court.
The prosecution was also absent during the hearing of the defendants’ bail application on November 11.
Mr Akwaji said on Monday that by virtue of section 351 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, the absence of the prosecution from court showed lack of diligent prosecution.
When asked by the magistrate, Musa Eneye, about the absence of the two of the defendants, Mr Akwaji said they fell ill and were receiving traditional treatment in Kaduna.
Responding, the magistrate noted that there was no medical report to support the claim of ill health status of the two defendants.
“That the defendants, Olutosin Adeniji, Abdusalam Zubarur, Paul Akinwumi, and Devour Chomo, are discharged and the complaint against them dismissed,” Mr Eneye ruled.
He adjourned the case of the remaining two defendants till March 24.
‘Court decision based on law’
Speaking with journalists after Monday’s proceedings, Mr Akawaji said the ruling of the court “was based on law and not emotion”.
“The police dumped the first information report on the court. Having abandoned and neglected the case, the magistrate was right to dismiss it. The ruling was based on the law and not on emotion,” he said.
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Asked about the fate of the two remaining defendants, he said, “I know the police will not come to court. But when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.”
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported that the six defendants were arrested by the police on November 8, 2020 while they were demonstrating peacefully at the National Assembly, demanding an end to bad governance and police brutality.
The protest was meant to be a resumption of the #EndSARS protest which was earlier aborted in October after it was hijacked by hoodlums who went on a looting spree, attacking innocent citizens, police posts, stores and homes of prominent persons.
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