By GBENGA ARIYIBI
ADO-EKITI – Chairman of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Ekiti State Chapter, Chief Jide Awe, and four others were, yesterday, arraigned before a Chief Magistrate court in Ado-Ekiti in connection with the killing of one Ayo Jeje, a former ACN member, at Erinjiyan Ekiti.
Others arraigned with Awe include Faboro John, Aniramu Basiru, Busuyi Falayi and Shefiu Owonifari.
They are facing a four-count charge of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and disruption of public peace, which according to police prosecutor are punishable under the law.
Jeje, who hailed from the same Erinjiyan Ekiti with Awe, was killed by agents suspected to be political thugs on March 30, while planning to decamp to PDP.
However, there was a mild drama during yesterday’s proceeding, as the prosecuting officer, who happens to be in Charge of Legal Department in Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Femi Falade and the Defence Counsel, Mr. Oso Adetunji, engaged each other in battle of wit on who had the power to prosecute between the police and the state Attorney-General.
Adetunji urged the court to quash the charges until there was a directive from the office of the Attorney-General, citing Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which had vested the powers to prosecute on the Attorney-General.
However, Police Prosecutor, Falade, pointed out that the power to prosecute case is contained in Section 23 of the Police Act, saying the idea that the police must seek legal advice from the Attorney-General is not statutory or compelling.
In his short ruling, Magistrate Richard Adeboye, blamed the Director of Public Prosecution and the Police for engaging each other over who has powers to prosecute any accused person.
He said he expected the matter to be settled administratively rather than bringing it to the courtroom.
The Chief Magistrate averred that it had become a norm in the administration of criminal justice that the police would have to send a duplicate case file of a case of this nature to the office of
Attorney-General for legal advice.
He said: “The status quo should be maintained for the DPP and the police to relax their muscles over who has the power to prosecute.
“I expected the parties to do what they are expected to do in this matter before the matter starts afresh.”
The ACN chieftain was, however, let off the hook, as the court ruled that he should be allowed to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted him by the Police, pending the time the charge sheet would be perfected by the office of the Attorney-General and the police authority.
Meantime, the Police have arrested Mr. Segun Adewumi, a political leader to the slain Jeje, and Adigun Adesanmi for allegedly taking the pictures of Chief Awe and other accused persons, while the court proceeding was on and the duo are presently being detained at the Criminal Investigation Department of the State Police Command.
The matter was adjourned till May 22, 2013 for mentioning.