Prosecution Intends to Amend Evidence Against Okah

The prosecution counsel in the ongoing trial of Charles Okah for allegedly masterminding the October 1, 2010 bomb blast, that rocked Eagle Square, Abuja, Monday, sought to amend an evidence submitted to the court in 2015.
More than 10 people were killed in the blast, which President Goodluck Jonathan was a prime target.
At the resumed trial on Monday, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), the prosecution counsel, told Justice Gabriel Kolawole, the trial Judge, that the prosecution intended to affix a stamp on an evidence already before the court.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on June 1,2017, told Okah that he has a case to answer, while dismissing a no case submission he entered into after the prosecution closed its case against the defendants.
Okah, alongside three others, were first arraigned before the court on December 7, 2010.
Others were Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos).
Francis-Osvwo died later in prison custody, while Ebiware, who had his trial conducted separately, is serving life sentence upon his conviction in 2013, after he pleaded guilty, leaving Okah and Nwabueze to stand trial.
In urging court to uphold their no case submissions, the defendants cited overwhelming contradictions in evidence of the prosecution witnesses, insisting that there was no credible evidence to prove the allegations against them.
They argued that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were badly discredited that no court can rely on them to adjudicate on an issue adding further that, by virtue of provisions of Section 35(1) of the Evidence Act, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to discharge.
They had posited through their counsel that the presumption of innocence is sacrosanct until the prosecution places substantial evidence to link them up with the alleged offences.
The prosecution, in its address, prayed the court to dismiss the no case submission on the ground that, “That the main issue at this stage is to determine whether the prosecution has made out prima facie case to require defendants to offer some explanation in relation to the charges preferred against them by the Federal Government.
According to the counsel to the prosecution, counts 1 to 8 relate to Section 15(1)(2) of EFCC Act, which borders on receiving of funds and using same to finance act of terrorism.
But the court had refused the submissions of the defendants and ordered Okah and Nwabueze to open their defence
Justice Kolawole had in the ruling said: “Therefore, they have some explanation to make in view of these testimonies and exhibits, which they can only make when they open up their defence, the prosecution submitted.”
Meanwhile, Izinyon told the court on Monday that his client intended to regularise the said document by affixing the requisite stamp.
He noted that the document contains a list of items alluded to by one John Afolabi, in April 2015, a prosecution witness.
Responding to the application, the defence counsel, Oghenevo Otemo said the document intended to be regularised has been in court for a long time.
He noted that his team had addressed the court on the failure of the prosecution to affix a stamp on the said document, saying turning around now to want to amend the same document would amount to a miscarriage of justice. .
“The application of the prosecution counsel is alien and unknown to law. It is unknown to the criminal procedure of Nigeria. Granting the application will amount to mistrial of the defendants.
“Granting of application upon presented facts, at this stage of the case, will orchestrate a serious miscarriage of justice. It is an abuse of court process,” Otemo said.
The court adjourned the matter till February 21 for ruling on the prosecution’s application.
It will be recalled that Okah and his co-defendants were charged on December 6, 2010 on an amended 8 counts charge bothering on terrorism.
After several interlocutory applications, on April 23, 2015, trial began with the prosecution counsel calling 17 witnesses.

Author: News Editor

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