Court documents have revealed how the suspected killers of Deborah Emmanuel, a College of Education student, were freed after the Nigerian police prosecutors failed to show up in court.
On May 12, 2023, Emmanuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was attacked by a mob and set ablaze over comments purportedly considered to be an insult to Prophet Mohammed.
Few days after, a Magistrate Court sitting in Sokoto State remanded the two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci arrested in connection with her murder.
During the court proceedings, the suspects pleaded not guilty to the murder of the deceased.
They were subsequently discharged and acquitted by the court.
In a five-page court judgement, delivered on January 30, 2023 in the Chief Magistrate Court I Gutwa, Sokoto seen by SaharaReporters, Chief Magistrate Shuaibu Ahmad, Esq set the suspects free due to the absence of the police prosecution during series of hearings.
The charges against them, criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance, should have carried a maximum of two-year jail term upon conviction.
The court judgement read, “On the 20/10/2022 this case started denovo due to the transfer and change of the former Chief Magistrate Fatima Hassan. And when the F.I.R was re-read and re-explained to each of the defendants. Each of the defendants denied the contents of the F.I.R as untrue. The prosecution then told and informed this court that the investigations into the case have been completed and they are ready for the hearing of the case. The case was adjourned to 3/11/2022 for hearing.
“On the 3/11/2022 the case came up for hearing. The defendants were present and the prosecution was also present. The prosecution applied for the case to be adjourned to another date because they were not able to serve their witnesses in this case. Without any objection from the Defense Counsel the matter was adjourned to 10/11/2022 for hearing. On the 28/11/2022 the case came up for hearing. The defendants were present in the court. But due to the absence of the prosecution, the case was adjourned to 8/12/2022 for hearing.
“On the 8/12/2022, the prosecution was also not in court for the hearing of this case. So the case was adjourned to 29/12/2022 for hearing. On the 29/12/2022 the defendants were present in court. But due to the absence of the prosecution the case could not go on. Learned Counsel to the defendants Mr. M.B Abdallah, Esq applied for the case to be struck out under S.350(1) of ACJL of Sokoto State 2019 due to the absence of the prosecution. But the court refused the application and adjourned this case to today 30/1/2023 for hearing at the instance of the prosecution.
“Today, 30/1/2023, the defendants and their counsel are present in court. But the prosecution is absent, he is absent without any genuine reason. Due to the absence of the prosecution, Learned Counsel to the defendants applied that this case be struck out.
“From the conduct of the prosecution in this case, it seems to be very clear to this court that the prosecutions have no any evidence against the defendants. And any/or are no longer interested in seriously prosecuting this case.
“In the light of the above, it would be unjust to further adjourn this case at the instance of the prosecution when they have been given several adjournments to call their witnesses but could not call any. In the interest of justice and in accordance with the law, I hereby grant the application of the Learned Counsel to defendants to strike out this case for lack of evidence and lack of diligent prosecution.”
Nigerians have recently raised queries about Emmanuel’s murder seeing how the police swiftly arrested Afro musician Seun Kuti, who assaulted a police officer last week.
To douse criticisms, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, spokesman for Nigeria Police, on Thursday, gave an update claiming the police had charged the killers to a “magistrate court.”
Adejobi then added if anyone wanted to know more about the case, they should approach the court.
He however kept from the public that although the police arraigned the suspects before the court, they failed to properly prosecute the matter, and the suspects were released on this ground.