The trial of four suspected Boko Haram members charged with complicity in the 2011 bombing of the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja, was yesterday stalled by the absence of the prosecutor, Mrs. O. E. Ohakwe.
The case was fixed for yesterday to enable the prosecutor argue her two applications one of which sought the courtâ€™s leave for the prosecution to reopen her case, while the other sought the courtâ€™s permission for the prosecution to amend the four-count charge on which the four accused are being tried.
The suspects Salisu Mohammed, Inusa Mukailu, Danâ€™azumi Haruna and Abdulsalami Adamu – were all arrested in Kano shortly after the bombing that occurred on August 20, 2011.
They were later arraigned on a four-count charge bordering on terrorism.
On November 22 last year, the trial judge, Justice Gladys Olotu, closed the prosecutionâ€™s case on the grounds that the prosecutor failed to handle the case diligently.
The judge had expressed dismay that the prosecution, who applied for and got the courtâ€™s permission for accelerated trial, was now reluctant to produce witnesses months after the first witness testified.
Justice Olotu ordered the suspects to open their defence case, consequent upon which they filed an application for a no-case submission.
Parties were to adopt their written addresses in respect of the defenceâ€™s no-case submission on January 22 this year, when Ohakwe informed the court about her two new applications.
Although the defence lawyer objected to the new applications by the prosecution, describing them as a ploy to further delay the case, the judge chose to hear them.
She said the court must hear any application, once it was filed, whether it made sense or not.
Justice Olotu ordered the prosecution to include all the necessary documents in the new applications before the next date and adjourned to February 17 for hearing.
When the case was called yesterday, Ohakwe was absent. Defence lawyer, Obi Duruzo argued that Ohakweâ€™s absence was an indication that the prosecution was not interested in prosecuting the case.
Duruzo, who noted that Ohakwe did not bother to inform the court about her absence, said he had tried unsuccessfully to reach the prosecutor on the telephone.
At a point, the judge directed one of the courtâ€™s registrars to call Ohakweâ€™s telephone number.
The registrar was also unable to reach the prosecutor, a development that prompted the judge to adjourn further hearing to March 12.
She also ordered the issuance of hearing notice on Ohakwe.