A battery of lawyers appeared at the Ilorin Senior Magistrates Court in support of a 37-year-old primary school teacher, charged with defaming Senate President Bukola Saraki on Facebook.
Biodun Baba, a teacher at LGEA School, Olorunlana in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara, had been reportedly sacked by the Kwara state government for the alleged offence.
He was alleged to have through his Facebook postings been inciting the public against Saraki and in one instance he called the Senate President a ‘bastard’. The case ignited public interest and drew many people and sympathisers of Baba to court today.
The criminal charge was filed following a complaint to the Chambers of S. I. Solagberu and Co, Ilorin by Alhaji Jimoh Adesina, Chairman, Kwara South Chapter of the APC
Adesina, accused Baba of printing or engraving matters on his Facebook wall known to be defamatory.
Solagberu, who filed the criminal charge on behalf of Adesina, accused Baba of inciting disturbance of public peace and writing injurious falsehood posts on Facebook.
He also alleged that Baba’s postings were capable of causing disaffection against Saraki and disparaging him.
The offences, he said, were contrary to sections 113, 114, 393, 394 of the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria and section 883and 204 of the Criminal Code Act.
However, the matter took a twist as counsel to the complainant, Sikiru Solagberu, said he had filed an application before the court seeking to withdraw the charge.
Solagberu read a letter he received on July 26, instructing him to withdraw the case against the accused.
The lawyer cited section 248 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 41, Laws of the Federation 2004 to support the application for withdrawal.
He said the instruction of the complainant to withdraw the case was as a result of intervention by well meaning Nigerians, including Ilorin Emirate Traditional Council, leaders of the various communities in the state as well as party loyalists.
Solagberu, urged the court to grant his application.
Responding, counsel to the accused, Mr Sambo Muritala, said his client would ordinarily not object to the complainant letter to withdraw.
Muritala, however, submitted that in a situation of ‘non-compoundable’ offence, it is safer for the complainant’s counsel to make proper application before the court and support it with an affidavit.
According to the counsel, coming by way of proper application and affidavit will demonstrate the wish of the complainant to withdraw the charges saying the application was an abuse of court process.
Replying to the accused counsel’s submission, Solagberu argued his application was not an abuse of the court’s process adding that since matter was not a civil action there was no need of deposing to an affidavit.
“There is nothing in Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act and Criminal Procedure Code that enjoins a complainant to depose to an affidavit before a case is withdrawn from the court,” he added.
Solagberu added that the complainant’s letter before the court has satisfied the conditions for withdrawal of cases of this nature.
“If a party says he wants to withdraw in a criminal case, the court should use its instrumentality to assist the parties to withdraw.
The Magistrate, Ahmed Dasuki, later adjourned the matter to Aug 3 for ruling on the application.