Govt should pardon #EndSARS looters – lawyer
This Is What Happened Yesterday. My Personal Experience Defending My Plateau People:
I Left My House 7am To Meet Up With Other Defense Attorneys Enroute To Bassa Local Government Of Plateau State,The Venue Earmarked By The Government For The Prosecution Of These Alleged Looters In Plateau State. When We Got To Bassa,We Discovered That Eight(8) Mobile Courts Were Formed By The Government For The Prosecution. We Immediately Divided Ourselves Into Eight(8) Legal Defense Teams To Defend These People In All The Eight (8) Courts Formed. I Was The Leader Of The Legal Defense Attorneys In Court 2. My Heart Broke When I Saw Plateau People Brought In By The Army And Police. From 12Years Of Age To 70years Of Age,Cutting Across All Areas Of Life. Our Aim As Defense Attorneys Was To Secure The Release Of These People In The Most Liberal Terms Permitted By Law.
Before The Prosecution Began,We Tried Plea Bargaining With The Government To See If Most Or All Of The Charges Against These Plateau People Can Be Dropped Or Even The Governor Granting Them Pardon With A Warning But All Efforts Proved Abortive As The Government Was Bent On Proving A Point By Prosecuting These Plateau People!
After All Efforts To Get The Lalong Administration Drop The Charges Failed,We Proceeded To Trial. Later On Though, We Succeeded In Getting The Government Drop The Most Serious Charges Against These People. The Government Insisted On Prosecuting These People For Breaking The Law Imposing Curfew On The State Contrary To Section 114 of The Penal Code Law Of Plateau State. We Proceeded To Defend These Plateau People On That One Charge.
In My Court 2,I Led The Defense Attorneys In Defending These People. The Government Was Bent On Convicting These People In Total Disregard Of Criminal Law And Procedure. All Principles Of Criminal Law And Procedure Was Jettisoned By The Trial Judge,The Sole Aim Of The Court Was Conviction At All Cost,Not Justice! My Team Of Defense Attorneys And I Were Shocked By The Blatant Disregard Of The Rules Of Criminal Law And Procedure As The Trial Judge Convicted And Sentenced Even Minors To A Fine Of 10k or Four Months Imprisonment In Default Of The Fine!
Of Course,The Government Succeeded In Extorting 10k From Most Of The More Than 300 Plateau People Prosecuted Yesterday. Most Of Them Would Rather Pay The 10k Than Go To Prison For Breaching Curfew No Matter How Genuine Their Reasons Are For Breaching The Curfew.(My Team Defended Two Sisters That Were Caught By The Police During The Curfew,They Were Actually Three Sisters Taking Food To Their Sick Mother In Juth When The Curfew Hours Came, The Police Arrested Two And Left One Sister To Continue Her Journey To The Hospital To Take The Food To The Sick Mother,Imagine That!) These People Were Summarily Convicted By The Trial Judge Without Considering Their Genuine Reasons And Without Even Considering The Fact That They Were Minors! We Did Our Best As Defense Attorneys But The Government Ensured That 10k Was Extorted From These Poor Plateau People Without Recourse To Criminal Law And Procedure. As Defense Attorneys, We Were Only Wishing We Could Appeal This Blatant Injustice! My Court 2 Was Blatantly Anti-People And Pro-Government! I Heard From My Other Colleagues In The Other Courts That Some Judges Stood By The Law And Discharged Some Of These People. Kudos To Those Judges.Nonetheless, We Watched In Utter Shock And Unbelief As The Trial Judge In Court 2 Did According To The Dictates Of Government Without Any Recourse To The Law And Justice Under A Fake Nomenclature Unknown To Law Termed “Strict Liability Offence”! Indeed Justice Was Not Just In Court 2 Yesterday. It Is Hard Being A Lawyer In A Lawless Society! It Was Indeed An Excruciatingly Depressing Experience Defending These Plateau People Before A Kangaroo Court Bent On Conviction Rather Than Justice In The Circumstances!
Me: We defended similar cases in 2010 after the Jos crisis and appealed curfew conviction too. Though the Fulanis did the Dogo Nahawa massacre, the court imprisoned innocent Christians arrested for curfew violations of terrorism. Gov Lalong should immediately pardon these people
– Emmanuel Ogebe ESQ
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