A Kwara State High Court judge, Justice Halimat Salman yesterday castigated the prosecution team in charge of the Offa robbery case for unduly prolonging the trial of the five accused persons brought before the court.
The judge was apparently angry by another request for adjournment shortly after the case came up on Friday due to the appearance of a new team leader for the prosecution.
Five accused persons; Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibikunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salaudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran are standing trial before the court over their alleged involvement in the April 5, 2018 robbery during which 33 persons were killed.
When the came up for hearing, the University of Ilorin Professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wahab Egbewole announced appearance for the prosecution which had hitherto been led by either the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Alhaji Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN) or the state Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Jimoh Mumini.
Egbewole, while asking for another adjournment, explained to the court that he was only given the brief on Thursday evening and even though he spent the night perusing the documents, he still needed to be well abreast of the case to offer his best in the matter.
The senior advocate promised not to make further request for adjournment as the case progresses, informing the court that his team has only four witnesses to call which could be done with at one sitting.
Although the defence counsel, Mathias Emeribe, did not object to the request for adjournment, he nevertheless asked the new prosecution team leader to impress it on the police to make available to the defence, a particular video clip in their custody which they intend to use in prosecuting the case.
He said, “The learned silk should impress it on the police to avail me of the video evidence which they said they want to use in this case. It is important that I study the video and bring it to the attention of my clients so I can have a true picture of the situation to enable me enter a proper defence for them”
In her ruling, Justice Salman noted that the court only reluctantly approved the request for an adjournment to enable the prosecution counsel study the case files and also for the defence to have access to the video clips in question.
Earlier during the proceeding, the judge had expressed dissatisfaction with the prosecution on the frequent request for adjournment in the case, expressing concern that the court might be blamed for delaying the case.
She said, “I don’t like what is happening in this case. It is unfortunate that the Attorney General did not give you (new prosecution team leader), the file on time. I don’t want that later they will be blaming the court”.
The matter was adjourned to Friday January 25, 2019 for definite hearing.