Nigeria: Court Fines Govt N100,000 for Stalling Dino Melaye's Trial

19 November 2019

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Maitama on Tuesday ordered the Nigerian government to pay N100,000 for stalling the trial of a senator, Dino Melaye, for alleged false information.

Mr Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West, is charged with two counts bordering on giving false information to the police.

The Nigerian government arraigned Mr Melaye last year, after he reported in April 2017 an alleged attempt on his life at his home state of Kogi. The government said the information the former senator provided was false.

The senator had accused the Kogi governor and his aides of being responsible for the alleged assassination attempt.

But at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the judge, Olasumbo Goodluck, gave the order after the prosecution lawyer, N.O. Ezra, informed the court that their witnesses were not in court.

Counsel Complains

The federal government's lawyer, Mrs Ezra, after informing the court that her witnesses were not in court, asked for an adjournment to enable her bring the witnesses.

Responding, Mr Melaye's lawyer, Olusegun Odubela, told the court that this was unfair to the defendant because the witness could not be more involved in Kogi election than the defendant who was a candidate in the election.

Mr Odubela added that the prosecution did not tell the court the whereabouts of their fourth witness.

"The court should be guided by the provisions of sections 396 (4)(6) of ACJA and 36 (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

"The prosecution has not adduced any cogent reasons why their witnesses are not available in court, in case the court grants them an adjournment, we will be asking for a cost of N250,000," he added.

He further told the court that since the last sitting on July 4, the prosecution should have known and informed the court and the defendant's counsel who comes from another jurisdiction.

The ruling

Mrs Goodluck held that by the provisions of Section 396 (4)(6) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, parties are entitled to five adjournments and nothing more than that.

The judge said she was not pleased with the attitude of the prosecution in the matter, especially when the matter was placed on the fast track, day to day hearing and the defendant's counsel coming from outside jurisdiction.

"A cost of N100,000 is therefore awarded against the prosecution instead of N250,000 prayed by the defendant's counsel," she ordered.

Mrs Goodluck said the trial was adjourned to November 19 and 20 and both dates of the trial are stalled for the failure of the prosecution to bring their witnesses to court.

She then adjourned the matter to December 5, for the continuation of trial.

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