Justice Sherifat Sonaike of a Lagos High Court sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) has threatened to revoke bail granted to an immigration officer, Mohammed Umar for his absence in court in an ongoing trial over alleged assault on his colleague on duty.
The court granted him bail sometime in April 2023 after he was arraigned by the Lagos State government over alleged assault on his colleague on duty.
The state government had in a charge marked LD/120518c/2022 filed against Umar, alleged that he unlawfully assaulted one Oluwafemi Adeyemi Badiru, by slapping him in his office and causing his nose to bleed.
The alleged assault on Badiru occurred on July 30, 2019, at the Nigerian Immigration Service Ikeja, Lagos.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge.
Part of the charge reads: “That you Umar Mohammed on or about July 30, 2019, at the Nigerian Immigration Office, Ikoyi, Lagos State, in the Lagos Judicial Division did unlawfully assault one Badiru Adeyemi Oluwafemi while executing his lawful official duty.”
His offence is contrary to Section 173, 174 (e) of the Criminal Law Ch. C17, vol. 3 Laws of Lagos State 2015
However, when his case was called yesterday, counsel from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr. M. A. Olateju and Mr. Alaba Kuku informed the court of their readiness to proceed with the case noted that their witness, Mr. Oluwafemi Badru is present in court.
The court asked why the defendant was not in court, and his counsel, Ms. O.F. Osineye, informed the court the defendant was sick. The lawyers said the defendant called her last night to inform her of his illness.
Meanwhile, the chambers of Fadipe and Co had sent a letter to the court, stating that the immigration office has made a move for an amicable settlement of the matter, and noted that appreciable progress has been made in that regard.
The letter read, “We are pleased to report that in compliance with the much-appreciated counsel of His Lordship, Hon. Justice (Mrs.) Sonaike of the High Court of Lagos State, advising parties to explore an amicable settlement, of the subject matter, appreciable progress has been made in this regard. The Nigeria Immigration Service has redeployed the nominal complainant, Mr. Badru Adeyemi back to Lagos command and he has also been allowed to sit for – the promotional examination that was held on the 10th of August 2023.”
Meanwhile, the court had sometime in June 2023 directed the counsel to try to resolve the matter amicably before the defendant we eventually arraigned. The court had to order the immigration to produce the defendant to take his plea before he came to court after various adjournments that the defendant did not present in court. His counsel also pleaded to the court that he would attend trial before the court granted him bail.
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The court however asked the witness whether the matter was settled in their office, but the complainant answered in negative, informing the court that he was threatened to withdraw the case in court. He further told the court that though he sat for the promotion exam in August.
The development made the court fumed that the defendant was not above the law. Stated that there was nothing before the court to show that the defendant could not stand trial.
“I will revoke his bail if he refuses to show up on the next adjourned date. The only person empowered by the law that can withdraw a criminal matter is the Attorney General. Even if the defendant brings an application, he has no power to withdraw the case from court.
“An offence has been committed, whosoever is culpable must be punished. We must ensure that everybody is under the law. The defendant is not above the law. Tell them that is only AG that can withdraw the case from the court. The defendant cannot continue to waste the time of the court. Why will the case be dragging.?”
Justice Sonaike therefore told the defendant’s counsel to inform the immigration and the defendant that only the AG has the power to withdraw an ongoing trial.
The judge subsequently adjourned to November 8, 2023, for the continuation of the trial.