Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of an FCT High Court Maitama, on Thursday foreclosed the prosecution in the trial of Mr. Dino Melaye for alleged falsehood.
Melaye, who until recently represented Kogi West in the Senate, is standing trial on two counts bordering on giving false information to the Police.
He was alleged to have, sometime, in April, 2017 deliberately given false information to the Police to incriminate the then Chief of Staff to Kogi State governor, Edward David Onoja.
Melaye allegedly gave the name of Onoja, now the deputy governor, as the mastermind of an assassination attempt on him.
Melaye was also alleged to have, in April, 2017, given false statement of facts in a phone conversation with Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, son of a late former governor of the state, Abubakar Audu.
The prosecution alleged that the phone call was with the intention of harming the reputation of Onoja.
Melaye, however, pleaded not guilty to the offences, punishable under sections 140 and 393 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963.
Justice Goodluck foreclosed the prosecution in a bench ruling on the application made by counsel for Melaye, Mr. Olusegun Odubela, SAN, who drew the attention of the court to the absence of the prosecution counsel.
The judge held that she could not disregard the antecedents of the counsel for the prosecution in the case.
She stated that the prosecution did not accord the court the respect of a written letter explaining their absence in court.
Justice Goodluck further stated that the case had been adjourned more than the required five times at the instance of the prosecution through absence in court or non preparedness to go on with the case.
The judge noted that at the last sitting on November 19, the court did everything possible to ensure that the case proceeded, even going on to award cost against the prosecution with a view to gingering them to go on with the case.
According to her, she would have, ordinarily, dismissed the case for lack of diligent prosecution in line with the provision of Section 351 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
She stated that she did not do so based on the submission of Odubela, who argued that the prosecution might resuscitate the case in future if it was dismissed.
In view of this, Goodluck held that it was her considered view that “the case of the prosecution be foreclosed and it is hereby foreclosed.”
She said, having stated that they were going to make a no-case-submission for the court to either duly dismiss the case or otherwise, the court would adjourn to enable the defence do the needful.
Goodluck then adjourned until February 11, 2020 for the defence’s no-case-submission.
Earlier, Odubela told the court that it was obvious and clear that the prosecution was absent in court, even though it was represented at the last sitting.
He said it was certain that the prosecution was no longer interested in prosecuting the case.
“On that day (November 19), we stated that the prosecution was no longer interested in prosecuting the case because they had achieved what they wanted, which was media prosecution.
“We drew the attention of the court to Section 36(4) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 396(4) of ACJA, 2015,” Odubela told the court.
He then applied that the prosecution be foreclosed “because they are not serious.”
Odubela added that the defence team did not want to ask for the dismissal of the case in view of the fact that the prosecution can still bring it up again.
He stated that the defence intended to make a no-case-submission, stating, “We will take the appropriate steps between today and the next adjourned date.”