Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday expressed displeasure at the conduct of politician and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and his associate, Olawale Bakare.
Sowore and Bakare are facing trial before the court for alleged treasonable felony filed by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (OAGF) for their involvement in the #RevolutionNow protest.
Abubakar also told the court that his office wrote a letter to the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar for an adjournment of further proceedings in the case till a date after the Easter vacation.
“As your lordship is aware, on January 25, this matter was billed to go on trial and we were ready and in court. However, owing to the demise of Justice Watila of Abeokuta Division, the court could not proceed.
Alilu recalled that the court had once awarded a N200,000 fine against the government for being tardy.
He added: “Now, the table has turned. Section 266 of ACJA (Administration of Criminal Justice Act) provides that a defendant shall be present in court during the whole of the trial, except…
“It is an affront to this honourable court for them to stay away and still say they are on their way.”
The lawyer said the defendants provided no reason for their absence, stressing that his witness, who was in court, came from outside the court’s jurisdiction.
Alilu also asked the court to award a cost against Sowore and Bakare for their “misconduct”.
Before the judge could rule, Sowore strolled into the courtroom.
Ruling, Justice Ojukwu said she was displeased with the defence’s posture towards the proceedings.
The judge said she would not condone any action that could delay proceedings in the trial.
She initially awarded N100,000 cost against Bakare, who was not in court, but added N50,000 when Alilu pointed out, among others, that Bakare’s absence without any cogent reason was deliberate disrespect to the court.
Justice Ojukwu adjourned till April 20 for continuation of trial.