Justice D. D. Longji of a Jos High Court in Plateau on Tuesday discharged two armed robbery suspects, Mustapha Mohammed and Amos Emmanuel, over lack of diligent prosecution by the police.
“I am discharging you and it is with a heavy heart; I am discharging you not based on merit, but because my hands are tied,” a visibly miffed Mr. Longji declared, while accusing the police prosecutor of refusing to do his job.
He said that he was discharging the duo “because of the position of the law on lack of diligent prosecution”.
“I have no reason to hold you because the prosecution has not diligently prosecuted the matter and seem uninterested in it.
“But, if it is in your character to be a thief, you will come back here again; you will be re-arrested one day and brought back to court to face your charges.
“There is no peace for the wicked, you are hereby discharged, but not acquitted,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the suspects were discharged after their counsel, David Adudu, prayed the court to strike out the case and discharge his clients as the prosecution had not shown any interest in the matter.
He also claimed that the prosecution had consistently frustrated hearing on the case since it commenced in June 2016.
Mr. Longji, while agreeing with the defence counsel, said that the prosecution was not interested in the case and had been absent at the hearings.
“Because of the persistent absence of the prosecution, the case suffered series of adjournments. The worst aspect is that no reasons were usually given for the absence,” he said.
At their arraignment in June 2016, the police prosecutor, E. A. Enegbonoise, had told the court that the accused persons, armed with a knife and a pistol, robbed one Chinyere Onyeabor, at Abattoir, Jos, on April 14, 2016.
Mr. Enegbonoise said that the accused persons, in company of a third accused, Kenneth Okafor, currently in Bauchi prisons over another matter, attacked Ms. Onyeabor and dispossessed her of a hand bag, three phones and an undisclosed amount of money.
The police prosecutor said that the first accused person, Kenneth Okafor, had told the police, in a confessional statement, that the knife and pistol belonged to the first accused (Mohammed), who brought them to his house and suggested that they should go out to rob.
Mr. Enegbonoise quoted the accused as saying that when they went out to rob, they picked a woman at Farin-Gada roundabout in their tricycle, but later pushed her out of the moving vehicle and took her belongings.
The prosecutor further quoted the accused as saying that at a military check point at Abattoir, soldiers discovered the arms and apprehended them.
The statement also quoted Mr. Mohammed as saying that he bought the gun from one Isiaka Sani, a resident of Congo-Russia area of Jos, at the cost of N5, 000.
The prosecutor said that the offences contravened sections 1 (1 and 2), and 27 (1), of the Robbery and Fire Arm special provision Act, CAP R11, of the Federation of Nigeria, and punishable with death and a prison term of up to 14 years.