By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Tosin Adejuwon
Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja High Court yesterday warned the Lagos State prosecution team over its failure to produce another witness in the on-going trial of the former CSO to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and two others over theirÂ alleged culpability in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late politician, Basorun M.K.O. Abiola on June 4,1996
The judge gave the warning while granting a further adjournment at the instance of the prosecution who told the court that they cannot have access to their prosecution witnesses.
Mrs. A.A Olugasa, who led the prosecution had applied for an adjournment on the ground that the two days public holiday declared by the Federal Government made it impossible for them to bringing their witness to Lagos.
Also, the police was not spared by the court who cautioned the officers not to make it a habit of investigating cases and abandoning them in court without coming forth to give testimony, thereby turning back the wheel of justice. Justice Dada warned that yesterday’s adjournment will be the last one that will be given.
Further hearing in the case was adjourned till September 30.
The prosecution said â€œMy lord it is very unfortunate that we cannot continue with the trial today. We made concerted efforts in getting our witnesses but the public holiday disrupted our plans. I humbly apply for an adjournment to enable us bring our next witness before the court.â€
The defendant counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo had vehemently opposed the application on the ground that the application lacks merit without cogent reason upon which the court could exercise discretion in its favor.
â€œAdjournment is not granted, even in a civil case as a matter of course. We submit that no cogent reason has been adduced for the application. The court is not bound to grant an adjournment because the prosecution asked for it. The facts of this case seriously support our opposition for adjournment.
The case came up last on July 28, 2009 and an adjournment was predicated on their inability to procure police officers due to the Boko Haram violence in the north.â€
The counsel said the Supreme Court has warned trial judges against adopting a patronizing attitude towards the prosecution and urged the court to refuse the application for adjournment and call upon the prosecution to proceed and when they canâ€™t, the defense will bring its next application.
In response, Olugasa admitted the fact that adjournment is not a matter of course, stating that justice is not to the defendants alone but also to the society. She further explained that on July 28, the defense team and the defendants were also not in court, adding that the defense in the past also had a series of applications for adjournments to put its house in order which was granted by the court using its discretion.
The court said that the adjournment was granted to enable the prosecution to put its house in order. The judge held that the law allows for two adjournments, stating that the application is technically the second one since the defense was not present at the last sitting.