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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Court disapproves of frequent delays in trial of anti-Tinubu protester

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A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Magistrate Court, sitting in Zuba, has expressed displeasure at the frequent adjournments in the trial of an anti-Tinubu protester, Obiajulu Uja, for a criminal offence.

Mr Uja was arrested in April last year when he caused a commotion during a Lagos-Abuja flight with his solitary protest demanding that Bola Tinubu, then a president-elect, should not be inaugurated as Nigeria’s president on 29 May.

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He has been undergoing trial before Magistrate Abdulazeez Muhammad of the Zuba Magistrate’s Court.

However, during Tuesday’s scheduled proceeding for the definitive cross-examination of a prosecution witness, it was reported by PRNigeria that Magistrate Muhammad was surprised to find that neither the federal government’s Lawyer, Umo Inna, nor the defense’s lawyer, P. U Ogbadu, were present in court.

To make matters worse, no explanation was given for their absence.

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The Magistrate, taken aback by the situation, mentioned in a brief ruling that remaining relevant as an institution requires recognizing challenges and making tough decisions.

“Frivolous adjournments in criminal matters must be avoided. In this particular case, I will prioritize substantial justice and grant an adjournment at the prosecution’s request.

“With that in mind, this case is adjourned to the 5th day of March 2024 for the definitive cross-examination.”

PRNigeria reported that in early April 2023, Mr Uja was removed from a Lagos-Abuja flight after initiating a solo protest, demanding that President Bola Tinubu (then President-elect) should not be sworn in as president on 29 May.

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His trial for the criminal offense has faced multiple adjournments since then.

At one point, the Kuje prison authorities, following a medical examination of the defendant based on a court order, concluded that Mr Uja was mentally unstable.

However, recent developments led to Mr Uja being granted bail by a vacation judge of the FCT High Court, Edward Okpe, who asserted that Mr Uja was competent to stand trial.

READ ALSO: Supreme Court gets full bench of 21 justices for the first time in history

Consequently, the proceedings commenced with a prosecution witness before Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez.

The prosecution has completed the examination of their witness, and now it is time for the defendant to cross-examine the prosecution witness.

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