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Hansel Uja: Judge blows hot over incessant delays in trial of anti-Tinubu air passenger



The Zuba Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory expressed dissatisfaction with the frequent adjournments and delays in the trial of Barrister Obiajulu Hansel Uja, an anti-Tinubu air passenger, for a criminal offense.
Uja, a self-proclaimed “Obidient supporter,” was apprehended in April of last year after causing commotion during an Ibom Air flight from Abuja to Lagos, when he staged a solitary protest demanding that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then President-elect, should not be inaugurated as Nigeria’s President on May 29.
The defendant, a legal professional, has been undergoing trial before Magistrate Abdulazeez Ismail Muhammad of the Zuba Magistrate’s Court.
The individual faced specific charges of public nuisance, resistance to lawful arrest, threatening violence, and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace under sections 396, 267, 188, 172, and 144 of the Penal Code Law.

Despite pleading not guilty to all charges, bail was denied by the trial court for various reasons.

However, during the scheduled cross-examination of a prosecution witness, Magistrate Muhammad was shocked 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.

Muhammad, surprised by the development, stated in a concise ruling that maintaining relevance as an institution necessitates acknowledging challenges and making tough decisions.
“Frivolous adjournments in criminal cases must be prohibited. In this particular case, I will prioritize substantial justice in granting an adjournment at the prosecution’s request.
“In light of this, this case is adjourned to the 4th day of March, 2024 for definitive cross-examination.”
Uja’s trial for a criminal offense has experienced a series of adjournments.
At one juncture, following a court-ordered medical examination, the Kuje prison authorities determined that the defendant was mentally unstable.
Justice Edward Okpe of the Federal Capital Territory High Court resolved the defendant’s mental issue by granting him bail and affirming his fitness for trial.
Following the High Court’s decision, the case began with the prosecution presenting its witness before Magistrate Mohammed Abdulazeez.
The prosecution has now completed the presentation of its witness, and it is now time for the defendants to cross-examine the prosecution’s witness.
However, Magistrate Muhammad has postponed the cross-examination to March 4, warning against any further unnecessary delays in the trial.