Court frees three robbery suspects detained for seven years

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TRACKING>>An Igbosere High Court in Lagos Monday struck out a robbery charge filed by the Lagos State Government against three men: Abubakar Ali, Abdullahi Ibrahim and Abdulraman Abdullahi.

Justice Modupe Nicol-Clay freed the men following the government’s failure to diligently prosecute the case.

Ali, 29, a labourer; Ibrahim, 32, unemployed; and Abdullahi, 25, commercial motorcyclist, were in 2012 brought by the police before Mrs M. O. Ope-Agbe of an Igbosere Chief Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, soon after their arrest for alleged robbery.

Following an application by the police, Chief Magistrates Ope-Agbe remanded the trio in prison custody pending advice from the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The DPP recommended their trial and the case was transferred to the high court where the defendants were arraigned before Justice Nicol-Clay in July 2013.

They were accused of a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and robbery, both of which contravened Sections 295 (2) (b) and 297 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

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The judge heard that the defendants, at about 4:50pm on or about September 6, 2012, at 404 Close, Banana Island, Ikoyi Lagos, robbed Mr Adeshina Oyeniran of four Handsets, jewellery and recharge cards of various networks all valued at N220,000.

Each defendant pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution informed the court of its intention to call six witnesses, Olowookere Stephen, Adeshina Oyeniran, Temidayo Oyeniran, Yetunde Arikawe, Corporal Eje Agada and Sergeant Bashiru Adeleye.

But following the commencement of trial and several adjournments, no witness was available.

At the commencement of proceedings Monday, defence counsel Mrs. Grace Adenubi and Busola Byron of the Legal Aid Counsel questioned the prosecution’s willingness to go on with the trial.

Adenubi said: “My Lord, this is a 2013 case. For six years, the prosecution has not been able to present witnesses. There has been no witness since arraignment. We apply that the case against the defendants be struck out.

“Our application is anchored on Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which guarantees every defendant the right to fair hearing within a reasonable time. This case is long overdue for striking out, in the interest of justice.”

Upholding her prayer, Justice Nicol-Clay struck out the case.