Abuja Court Expresses Displeasure at Frequent Trial Delays for Anti-Tinubu Air Passenger, Uja

Abuja Court Expresses Displeasure at Frequent Trial Delays for Anti-Tinubu Air Passenger, Uja

A Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory, located in Zuba, has expressed dissatisfaction with the frequent adjournments and delays in the trial of Barrister Obiajulu Hansel Uja, an anti-Tinubu air passenger facing criminal charges.

Uja, a devoted supporter, was arrested in April of the previous year when he caused a commotion during an Ibom Air flight from Abuja to Lagos. He staged a solo protest, demanding that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was then the President-elect, should not be inaugurated as Nigeria’s President on May 29.

The defendant, who is a trained lawyer, has been undergoing trial before Magistrate Abdulazeez Ismail Muhammad of the Zuba Magistrate’s Court. He is specifically charged with public nuisance, resistance to lawful arrest, threatening violence, and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace, as stipulated by sections 396, 267, 188, 172, and 144 of the Penal Code Law.

Uja pleaded not guilty to all charges but was denied bail by the trial court for various reasons.

However, during the scheduled cross-examination of a prosecution witness, Magistrate Muhammad was taken aback to discover the absence of both the Federal Government’s lawyer, Umo Inna, and the defense lawyer, P.U. Ogbadu, in court. Furthermore, no explanation was provided for their absence.

Surprised by this development, Magistrate Muhammad expressed his dismay and stated in a brief ruling that a relevant institution must recognize challenges and make difficult decisions to remain effective.

“Frivolous adjournments in criminal matters must be prohibited. In this case, I will lean towards substantial justice and grant an adjournment at the prosecution’s request. Therefore, this matter is adjourned to the 4th day of March, 2024, for the definite cross-examination.”

Uja’s trial for the criminal offense has faced numerous adjournments. At one point, the Kuje prison authorities, following a court order for a medical checkup, found that the defendant was mentally unstable. A Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Olusegun Shoyombo, also confirmed the defendant’s mental condition in a medical report.

However, a judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Justice Edward Okpe, resolved the issue of the defendant’s mental state by granting him bail and affirming his fitness for trial.

Following the High Court’s decision, the prosecution began presenting its witness before Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez. The prosecution has since concluded the presentation of its witness, and it is now time for the defense to cross-examine the prosecution’s witness.

Nevertheless, Magistrate Muhammad has rescheduled the cross-examination to March 4, warning that no further unnecessary delays in the trial will be tolerated.

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