The Department of State Services (DSS) has dropped the prosecution of five activists who were unlawfully detained on July 4, 2021, at the Dunamis International Gospel Centre (Glory Dome) in Abuja for wearing #BuhariMustGo T-shirts.
The activists were charged on July 28 before a Magistrates’ Court in Mpape, Abuja, with five charges of conspiracy to disturb public order, an offense punishable under Section 96 of the Penal Code Law, according to the court.
The defendant entered a not guilty plea to the charge.
After hearing the defense and prosecution counsel, the Chief Magistrate, Mohammed Zubairu, granted the activists bail in the sum of N500,000 each with one surety in the same sum who must show their national identity cards to the court. The sureties must be inhabitants of the court’s jurisdiction.
Surprisingly, the DSS lawyer, I. Onotu, was conspicuously absent in court at the resumed hearing of the case on Monday at Wuse Magistrate Court following the transfer of the case.
Tope Temokun, the activists’ lawyer, sought the court to dismiss the case due to a lack of diligence in the prosecution.
Temokun said, “We applied that the charge is struck out based on the fact that when you bring somebody to court it is not convenient, and if that person voluntarily goes to court, you that have a case against the person does not show up in court.
“We were not aware that the matter will take place here at Wuse Magistrate Court but we are still here because we are diligent enough to be at the Magistrate Court, Mpape. So if the prosecution was there, that means we would be here together. It is not about whether you have notice or not. We did not have notice too but they are not here.
“We applied that the charge be struck out but the Magistrate said he is going to give an adjournment at the instance of complaint.”
The activists namely Ben Mannaseh; Emmanuel Larry; Victor Udoka Anene; a blind Saxophonist, Samuel Gabriel Iwatonaiye, and Henry Nwodo spent 30 days in illegal detention and were denied access to their families and lawyers.
They were finally released from DSS custody on August 3.
Justice Anwuli Chikere of Federal High Court had on July 26, while ruling on the ex parte motion filed by the activists, ordered the DSS to immediately release the activists from detention but the order was disobeyed as the DSS hurriedly filed trumped-up charges at the Magistrate Court.
The matter has been adjourned to September 20, 2021, for hearing.
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