By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, terminated further hearing on the examination malpractice charge against Sikiru Adeleke, a relative to former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Osun State, Ademola Adeleke.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, discharged and acquitted Adeleke and three other Defendants- Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau (the Principal of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State), Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo (the school’s Registrar) and Dare Samuel Olutope (a teacher in the school)- of the seven-count charge the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, entered against them.
Justice Ekwo upheld a no-case-submission the Defendants filed with respect to the charge.
The court held that Police failed to establish a prima facie case to warrant the Defendants to be compelled to enter their defence to the charge.
According to Justice Ekwo, the Prosecution woefully failed to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on it by the law.
He stressed that relevant witnesses were not produced before the court to testify in the matter.
“No witness was called from the National Examination Council (NECO) to testify throughout the trial. To worsen the situation, no eye witness was called from the school where the alleged malpractices was perpetrated”, Ekwo noted.
More so, the court held that though the Police preferred charge of conspiracy against the Defendants, it failed to adduce any evidence to establish same.
“In all, evidence of the five witnesses were so discredited during cross-examination and so manifestly unreliable to warrant the Defendants to be called upon to enter their defence in the charges against them.
“In conclusion, since the testimony of the Prosecution is insufficient to warrant the Defendants to open defense, I have no difficulty in upholding their no-case submission and discharge and acquit them from the charges. The suit is hereby dismissed”, the court held.
The Prosecution had through its lawyer, Mr. Simon Lough, closed its case after it called five witnesses that testified against the Defendants.
On their part, the Defendants, through their team of lawyers led by Mr. Nathaniel Oke, SAN, insisted that Police failed to establish a prima facie case to warrant the court to compel them to enter their defence to the charge.
They argued that evidence of the witnesses were manifestly unreliable, such that no court could rely on it to enter a verdict of conviction.
According to the Defendants, the Prosecution failed to by way of credible evidence, prove that they conspired to commit examination malpractice.
They, therefore, urged the court to uphold their no-case submissions, dismiss the charge and acquit them, a prayer that was answered on Tuesday.
It will be recalled that Senator Adeleke was initially arraigned alongside the other Defendants in 2018.