Justice Browne Marke Serves Notice of Dismissal on Office of Public Prosecutor
No-nonsense Judge, Nicholas Browne Marke on Wednesday 5 January 2011 served notice on the office of the public prosecutor of his noted intention to throw out the case against AB Adeyemi and others if the prosecutor was unable to proceed at the next adjourned seating.
It can be recalled that the state had brought an action against the defendants citing a two count charge of conspiracy to defraud their own company, and fraudulently taking company money for their own use.
Late in November of 2010, the defendants had been surprised when the case file was presented in court without them being informed, a move widely interpreted as an attempt to ambush the defendants by the prosecution. The defendants at that point said they had received neither an indictment package nor any notice of the case coming up in court. They apparently spent a whole week trying to get the necessary paperwork, which they eventually received on Friday the 3rd of December 2010. They were verbally informed that the case would come up on Tuesday the 14th December 2011 in the courts presided over by Justice Nicholas Browne-Marke.
The Law Court Building lighted up on the 8th of December, when the case was abruptly brought forward by 6 days. It appeared the courts had received some intelligence on the status of the defendants and may have had reason to believe they were a flight risk. At the opening day, the office of the public prosecutor was conspicuously absent. The trial judge however continued nonetheless, and immediately placed the defendants on very onerous bail terms, which court observers opined might be impossible to fulfill. After fulfilling the bail conditions, the defendants were released and appeared in the court on the originally fixed 14th December, on which date the public prosecutor appeared to make an application for an adjournment. His reason – he wanted to serve some documents on the defence which would help expedite the trial. The case was adjourned to the 22nd, when the public prosecutor was again absent. He had sent a letter indicating his inability to attend court and asked for an adjournment. By this time the defence lawyer, Brewah & Co, confirmed he had not served them with any papers. The case was adjourned to the 23rd, on which date the DPP did not again turn up. At this time the trial judge had no choice but to adjourn the matter to the new year and thus chose the 5th of January as the new adjourned date. On the 5th January, the public prosecutor was absent. He sent a letter which explained that he was ill and requested an adjournment.
The trail judge, apparently exasperated by the inability of the prosecutor to even start up his case decided to issue him notice, which he duly wrote down in his files. If the prosecutor failed to proceed with his case on the next adjourned date, the judge would have no choice by to dismiss the case, and this would force them to go into committal proceedings afresh. The representative of the DPP apologized for the ill health of his boss and asked for a two week adjournment to allow the boss to fully recover and guarantee that he will be in shape to continue. The judge suggested that the representative might like to proceed with the case on his boss’ behalf but the rep quickly declined.
The case was adjourned to the 24th January 2011 and the star witness, Mr AA Popoola, who had been waiting in the wings to give evidence against the defendants, uncharacteristically hurriedly left the building.
By Abduali Kamara
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