Abuja court frowns at incessant delays in trial of anti-Tinubu air passenger, Uja

A Federal Capital Territory Magistrate Court sitting at Zuba has frowned at the incessant adjournments and delays in the trial of an anti-Tinubu air passenger, Barrister Obiajulu Hansel Uja, for criminal offense.

Uja, an ‘Obidient supporter’ was arrested in April last year when he caused uproar during an Abuja-Lagos Ibom Air flight with his lone protest and demand that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then a President-elect, must not be inaugurated as Nigeria’s President on May 29.

The defendant, who is a lawyer by training, had since been put on trial before Magistrate Abdulazeez Ismail Muhammad of the Zuba Magistrate’s Court.

He was specifically charged with public nuisance, resistance to lawful arrest, threatening violence and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace contrary to sections 396, 267, 188,172 and 144 of the Penal Code Law.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges but was denied bail by the trial court for various reasons.

However, at the proceeding slated for definite cross examination of a prosecution’s witness, Magistrate Muhammad was shocked when he discovered that neither the Federal Government’s lawyer, Umo Inna, nor defence lawyer, P. U Ogbadu, was present in court.

To worsen the situation, no explanation was offered for their absence in court.

Muhammad who was taken aback by the development said in a brief ruling that ability to remain relevant as an institution requires the need to recognise challenges and begin to take difficult decisions.

“Frivolous adjournment in criminal matters must be prohibited. In the instance of this case, I will lean on the side of substantial justice to grant an adjournment at the instance of the prosecution.

“Against this background, this matter is adjourned to the 4th day of March, 2024 for definite cross examination”.

Uja’s trial for criminal offense has suffered a series of adjournments.

At one point, the Kuje prison authority, after a medical checkup of the defendant based on the court order, found that he was mentally unstable.

A Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Olusegun Shoyombo, had also in his medical report confirmed the mental insanity of the defendant.

However, a judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Justice Edward Okpe, put the mental issue of the defendant to rest when he admitted him to bail and held that Uja was fit for trial.

Consequent upon the High Court decision, the matter started with the prosecution calling its witness before Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez.

The prosecution has since finished leading their witness and is now time for defendants to cross examine the prosecution witness.

Meanwhile, the cross examination has been shifted to March 4 by Magistrate Muhammad with a warning not to tolerate any further unnecessary delay in the trial.

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