Nigeria: Court 'Closes' Prosecution's Case in Dino Melaye's Trial

5 December 2019

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, on Thursday, closed the case of the federal government in the trial of a former senator, Dino Melaye.

The judge's decision was due to the prosecution's absence and lack of diligence in prosecuting the politician.

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

The attorney-general's office 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 Mr Melaye's lawyer, Olusegun Odubela, informed the court that the prosecution was absent from the day's proceedings.

While addressing the court, Mr Odubela told the court that, "it is obvious that the prosecution is not here again today. On the 19th of November, the prosecution was here but was not ready to proceed."

The lawyer said, "it is clear that the prosecution is not ready to move on with the trial. They have achieved what they wanted to achieve which is media trial."

"We apply that the case of the prosecution is closed. We urge the court to adjourn for the defendant to open his defence."

Mr Odubela told the court that he intends to file a no-case submission.

In a short ruling, Justice Goodluck said she cannot disregard the antecedents of the prosecution.

She said, "the prosecution has not written any letter to the court to state reasons why they were absent."

Mrs Goodluck noted that the suit has been adjourned "not less than five times at the instance of the prosecution."

She said ordinarily, she would have dismissed the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

The judge then said, "I am of the view that the prosecution case is closed and it is hereby foreclosed."

The court adjourned to February 11, for the defendant to file a no-case submission.

Earlier ruling

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the court on November 19, ordered the Nigerian government to pay N100,000 for stalling the trial the ex-senator.

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".

She 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 Abuja.

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

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

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