High Court discharges Sen Adeleke‎ over alleged exams malpractices

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A court in Abuja has discharged and acquitted former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke within the alleged examination malpractices trial involving him and  Four other individuals.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, during a ruling on Friday, said he was minded to discharge and acquit Adeleke in view that  the prosecution’s decision to withdraw charges against the politician after it (prosecution) called four witnesses.

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Justice Ekwo relied on Section 108(3) in making the order acquitting Adeleke.

Section 108(3) of the ACJA states: “In any trial before a court during which the prosecutor withdraws in respect of the prosecution of an offence before the defendant is known as upon to make his defence, the court may, in its discretion, order the defendant to be acquitted if it’s satisfied, on the merits of the case, that the order could also be a correct one, and when an order of acquittal is made , the court shall endorse its reasons for creating the order on the record. ”

Adeleke was arraigned in late 2018 in conjunction with Sikiru Adeleke (who is claimed to be the senator’s relative), Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau (the school principal), Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo (a school registrar) and Dare Samuel Olutope (a teacher).

Ademola and Sikiru were accused, during a four-count charge, of fraudulently, through personation, registering as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State to enable them sit for the National Examinations Council (NECO) examination of June/July 2017.

The other three defendants were accused of aiding the commission of the alleged offence, within the charge filed within the name of the officer of Police (IGP).

The prosecution amended the charge in December 2018 and raised the counts on the charge to seven, following which the defendants were re-arraigned on the amended charge on December 16, 2018.

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The court on May 6, 2019 granted Adeleke’s permission to go to the us of America(USA) on grounds of ill-health.

Since then, Adeleke has not returned for the trial to continue, albeit the prosecution has called four witnesses so far .

On Thursday, prosecution lawyer, Simon Lough argued an application during which he sought to sever the charge, to exclude Adeleke from the trial in view of his continued absence.

Lough was of the opinion that the only because of prevent further delay within the case was to continue with the trial of the other available four defendants, since Adeleke has stayed away from the country, claiming to vomit and going to his health within the US.

Lawyer to Adeleke, Alex Izinyon (SAN) and other defence lawyers within the case didn’t object to the prosecution’s decision to amend the charge.

They however disagreed with the prosecution on the suitable order to be made; whether Adeleke should be simply discharged, supported the withdrawal of the charge against him, or whether he should be discharged and acquitted.

In a ruling on Friday, Justice Ekwo held that although the prosecution, by its application, sought to sever the charge, he will take its (prosecution’s) intention to mean withdrawal of the case against Adeleke.

The judge said his decision was informed by the actual fact that no law allows the prosecution to sever a charge, but to withdraw against a defendant and to amended at any time before judgment.

He noted that Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal ACT (ACJA) allows the prosecution to undertake withdrawal of charges, while Section 246 of the Act deals with amendment of charge

Justice Ekwo said: “the law is that the prosecution can amend the charge at any time a before judgment. There would are nothing wrong if the prosecution had simply applied to withdraw against the first defendant (Adeleke).

“I am seeing this application (the one argued on Thursday by the prosecution lawyer) together that simply seeks to withdraw, which i so hold.

“This withdrawal is occurring after the prosecution has called four witnesses. And from the record of the court, the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were concluded.

“The consequential order to be made upon the withdrawal of a charge is at the discretion of the court under Section 108(3) of the ACJA,” the judge said.

Justice Ekwo held that, since the prosecution sought to withdraw against the first defendant at this stage, he was of the view that the suitable order to be made is that of acquittal, because the evidence of the prosecution’s four witnesses are concluded and thus the witnesses are discharged.

The judge then made an order allowing the prosecution’s withdrawal of the charge against Adeleke and proceeded to make order acquitting the first defendant (Adeleke).

He adjourned till June 25 for the continuation of the trial in regard to the other defendants – Sikiru Adeleke, Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau, Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo and Dare Samuel Olutope.

Law experts said by the order of acquittal made by the court, the prosecution can’t arrest and prosecute Adeleke on the same charge whenever he returns to the country.

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