The arraignment of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and his wife before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over corruption allegations failed to go on as scheduled yesterday due to their absence in court.
Ademola and his wife, Olabowale, who is the Head of Service, Lagos State, were absent yesterday when the case was mentioned, as they were yet to be served with the charges against them.
The prosecution counsel led by Segun Jegede told the court that the court’s bailiff was unable to personally serve the defendants with the charges as they were said to have travelled to Lagos.
He sought an order to serve the defence counsel with the charges on behalf of the defendants, after explaining that the defence counsel had intimated the prosecution of his willingness to accept the charges on behalf of his clients.
He further prayed the court to order that the accused be arraigned after seven working days from the date specified on the notice, and urged the court to grant him leave to serve the defendants through their counsel.
The prosecution earlier sought to withdraw one of the two charges before the court. The first was dated November 14, 2016 and filed on the same day, while the second was dated December 1, 2016 and filed on the same day.
According to Jegede, the second charge was the authoritative one backed by evidence.
Responding, counsel to the Ademolas, Jeph Njikonye, who stated that he was not opposed to the withdrawal of the first charge dated November 14, however told the court that in the spirit of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act that makes expeditious disposal of criminal matters, they were prepared to accept the service of the extant charges on behalf of their clients.
He opposed the request for the application of Section 382(5) of the Act, arguing that the section could only apply where personal service was impossible, adding that he was not aware of an attempt by the bailiff to personally serve his client with the charges.
While praying the court to grant him leave, he said: “If you grant the prayer, I undertake that I will pass same to the defendants and assure you that they will be present in court at the next adjourned date.”
In his ruling, trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, said that the court’s records showed that the court bailiff had attempted to serve the defendants on December 2 in Abuja, but could not do so because they were out of Abuja.
He therefore granted leave to the prosecution to serve the counsel of the defendants with the charges.
The prosecution immediately went ahead to do so in the presence of the trial judge.
The matter was adjourned till December 13.