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Okah: Federal High Court Fixes Feb 21, For Adoption Of Addresses

 A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed February 21, for the prosecution and defence counsel to adopt their final addresses in a suit filed by the Federal Government against Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze, the alleged masterminds of the October 1st, 2010, Independence Day bomb blast near Eagle square Abuja.

Okah, Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were initially arraigned before the court on December 7, 2010 over their alleged involvement in the bomb blast which left about 12 people dead and several others injured.

Francis-Osvwo died later in prison custody, while Ebiware, who had his trial conducted separately, is serving life sentence upon his conviction in 2013, leaving Okah and Nwabueze to await trial.

The FG’s charge was marked FHC/ABJ/CR/186/2010.

At a resumed trial on Monday, the adoption of addresses could not proceed because of an application by Alex Izinyon SAN, the Prosecution Counsel, seeking leave of court to regularise one of his documents.

The document is a list of items mentioned by John Afolabi, the 1st prosecution witness in his testimony, which was tendered and later admitted in evidence, as exhibit 1.

Counsel to 1st defendant Emeka Okafor, and 2nd defendant’s lawyer Oghenovo Otemu had objected to the admissibility of the document.

The defence had argued that the document was not stamped, and therefore was invalid before the court.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole had on 23 April Admitted The Document, But Gave The Defence Counsel, window of opportunity to address the court on the weight to be attached to the document.

But opposing the Prosecution Counsel’s application, Okafor said allowing Izinyon to withdraw the document for the purpose of stamping it would amount to stealing a match from behind.

“We have joined issues on the admissibility of the document (Exhibit 1) in our final written addresses) Okafor told Justice Kolawole.

“Allowing the application of the prosecution counsel amounts to stealing a match from behind because they had a lot of time to address the court on the admissibility of the evidence or to pay the prescribed filing fee.

“It was tendered in evidence on April 15, 2015, several years, and you are now coming to regularise it” Okafor stated.

He urged court to dismiss the application.

Okafor argued that the application of the Prosecution Counsel “is alien and unknown to law and the criminal procedure of Nigeria”.

Granting the application according to Okafor, “Will amount to mistrial of the defendant.

“Granting of the application upon presented facts, at this stage of the trial, will orchestrate a serious miscarriage or justice, and abuse of court process.”

But, the prosecution counsel insisted that the court in its ruling on April 23, 2015 had permitted him to stamp the document out of time.

“The judgement has not been given, the prosecution may decide to even amend the charge at any stage of trial,” Izinyon argued.

“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” Izinyon said.

After taking arguments, Justice Kolawole adjourned to February 21, to rule on the prosecution counsel’s application and adoption of addresses by counsel.

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