Former Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke was on Friday discharged and acquitted by the Federal High Court in Abuja because the Federal Government withdrew charges against him in an alleged examination malpractice saga.
The withdrawal of the charges against Adeleke paved the way for his being discharged and acquitted on the charges levelled against him by the federal government.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had on Friday acquitted Adekele.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, said he was minded to discharge and acquit Adeleke in view of the prosecution’s decision to withdraw charges against the politician after it (prosecution) called four witnesses.
Ekwo relied on Section 108(3) in making the order acquitting Adeleke.
Section 108(3) of the ACJA states: “In any trial before a court in which the prosecutor withdraws in respect of the prosecution of an offence before the defendant is called upon to make his defence, the court may, in its discretion, order the defendant to be acquitted if it is satisfied, on the merits of the case, that the order is a proper one, and when an order of acquittal is made, the court shall endorse its reasons for making the order on the record.”
In a ruling, Justice Ekwo held that although the prosecution, by its application, sought to sever the charge, he would take its (prosecution’s) intention to mean withdrawal of the case against Adeleke.
The judge said his decision was informed by the fact that no law allowed the prosecution to sever a charge, but to withdraw against a defendant and to amended at any time before judgment.
Ekwo said that Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal ACT (ACJA) allowed the prosecution to undertake withdrawal of charges, while Section 246 of the Act deals with amendment of charge.
“The law is that the prosecution can amend the charge at any time a before judgment. There would have been nothing wrong if the prosecution had simply applied to withdraw against the first defendant (Adeleke).
“I am seeing this application (the one argued on Thursday by the prosecution lawyer) as one that simply seeks to withdraw, and I so hold.
“This withdrawal is taking place after the prosecution has called four witnesses. And from the record of the court, the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were concluded.
“The consequential order to be made upon the withdrawal of a charge is at the discretion of the court under Section 108(3) of the ACJA,” the judge said.
Ekwo held that, since the prosecution sought to withdraw against the first defendant at this stage, he was of the view that the appropriate order to be made was that of acquittal, because the evidence of the prosecution’s four witnesses have been concluded and the witnesses have been discharged.
The judge then made an order allowing the prosecution’s withdrawal of the charge against Adeleke and proceeded to make order acquitting the first defendant (Adeleke).
He adjourned till June 25 for the continuation of the trial in relation to the other defendants – Sikiru Adeleke, Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau, Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo and Dare Samuel Olutope.
The Nation reports that Adeleke was arraigned in late 2018 along with Sikiru Adeleke (who is said to be the senator’s relative), Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau (the school principal), Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo (a school registrar) and Dare Samuel Olutope (a teacher).
They were accused, in a four-count charge, of fraudulently, through impersonation, registering as students of Ojo-Aro Community Grammar School, Ojo-Aro, Osun State to enable them sit for the National Examinations Council (NECO) examination of June/July 2017.
The other three defendants were accused of aiding the commission of the alleged offence, in the charge filed in the name of the Inspector General of Police (IGP).