Owing to the delay on the part of the government in the commencement of the trial of Senator Ali Ndume, a judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, has threatened to strike out the suit.
Ndume was accused by the government of being one of the sponsors of dreaded sect, Boko Haram.
Kolawole had on December 19, 2011, when the last hearing was held, made an order for accelerated hearing, fixing February 2 and 7 and 14, 2012 for trial.
But at today’s hearing, the Director of Public Prosecution, Olufunmilayo Fatunde, was absent.
Cliff Osagie, from the office of the DPP, said Fatunde was absent because of an event of national importance.
An adjournment was thus sought by the prosecution.
Ndume’s lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, was not happy with this development.
He told the court through A. A. Vangos that he had his reservations about the adjournment being sought.
At this stage, Osagie told the court that Fatunde is seeking an adjournment of the hearing to the last week of February instead of March 6 and 7, 2012 as contained in her letter to the court.
Owing to this, Kolawole said: “Tell the DPP that if she is not ready, I will discharge the suspect and that will be the end of the matter.
“If the state is not ready to prosecute the accused person, withdraw the charges and go to another place.”
Kolawole said while the government is eager to arraign suspects in high profile criminal cases, it becomes reluctant when the trial proper commences, adding: “In view of the background of the last adjourned date, this will be an anti-climax.
“The national assignment, which she is going to, or has gone for, was not even disclosed to our office.
“I am still wondering which other national assignment can actually prevent her presence in this court today.
“The case had earlier, with her consent, been adjourned to today and 7th February 2012, for trial.
“I have always expressed my displeasure with regards to applications for adjournment of criminal cases.
“A trend one has noticed from the bench is that the state is always so anxious, perhaps too nervous, to arraign accused persons in high profile criminal cases such as this with a lot of media blitz.
“But when it gets to the nitty gritty of the real trial, the excitement and eagerness wanes.
“I have made the point to Mr. Osagie that this court is so flooded with many cases that it has no time, resources or energy, to spare for cases that are not to be prosecuted immediately.
“I must warn that applications for adjournment would be seriously refused, because I cannot, on one hand, grant accelerated hearing of the trial, and on the other be disposed indulge a party, the prosecution in particular, with needless and avoidable adjournments.
“I hope the remarks I have raised in this issue is well taken by all the parties and the prosecution in particular.”
The case was then adjourned to March 21 and 28 and April 10, 2012 for definite trial.