The Senate majority leader, Teslim Folarin, and three other persons docked for the alleged killing of Lateef Salako (aka Eleweomo), factional leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), were on Thursday discharged by an Ibadan Chief Magistrates Court.
Their discharge was sequel to an application from the state’s police headquarters seeking to withdraw charges earlier preferred against the
Messrs Folarin, Ramoni Jayeoba, Bankole Olaide Raji, and Raimi Ismaila were, on Tuesday, January 4, arraigned before an Ibadan Chief Magistrate’s Court on a two count charge of felony (conspiracy to murder) and murder of Mr. Salako, who was killed on December 30, 2010 at a People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) congress of the Ona-Ara local government council.
The accused persons were due for appearance before the court today (Friday) to witness the session fixed for the mention of their matter.
But, the police prosecutor, Matthew Ojeh, yesterday applied for an abridgement of the adjournment to an earlier date to allow him move an application requiring urgency.
In the motion on notice, supported by a 7-paragraph affidavit deposed to personally by Baba Adisa Bolanta, Oyo State Commissioner of Police, the police prosecutor asked the court to shift the adjournment date to an earlier one to allow him move his urgent application.
While granting the application, the presiding magistrate, Fatimat Badrudeen, said since Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), lead counsel to the accused persons, did not object it, the abridgement was therefore fixed for yesterday, which was the only date earlier than the original date fixed.
She also ordered that the accused persons be brought to the court for the movement of the urgent application.
It was, however, a stormy and dramatic session when the accused persons were brought from the prison and the court was reconvening. The Senate leader, who looked ruffled, was brought into the court’s premises in an ambulance bus around 12.50 pm.
“I risked being jailed in 2011 for calling Senator Folarin a murderer months after the Senate Leader was discharged and acquitted by the court of competent jurisdiction” Com. YSO Olaniyi, Former NANS Leader, Dec. 28, 2011.
When the case was called and appearances were sought, H.L. Sule, the state’s director of public prosecution, rose to announce his appearance. That attracted a vehement rebuff from Mr. Akintola, who insisted that he was not known to the matter and lacked the right to be heard by the court.
“I am opposed to Mr. Sule’s appearance. He is the DPP. He was not the one that preferred a charge against the accused persons and he is not
the Commissioner of Police who gave indication of withdrawal of the case. The police lawyer, who is the prosecutor, is here and he has withdrawn from the case. It was upon his application that your lordship abridged the case to today. He even filed affidavit of urgency before you to expedite the discharge of the accused persons. So, there is no other person apart from the Commissioner of Police that has the charge before you. This case was stood down for the accused person to be produced in court and here they are,” he said.
It took the intervention of the magistrate, who urged the learned silk to allow her know why he was in the court.
But as soon as Mr. Sule announced that he was for the prosecution, Mr. Ojeh interrupted him and told the court that he was the one for the prosecution.
Though she agreed with the DPP that he has the right to prosecute anybody anywhere within the state, Mrs. Budrudeen denied him that right yesterday, arguing that two agencies cannot prosecute the same case at the same time.
According to her, the police and the DPP should have agreed before coming to the court and that since the case in question had earlier been
brought to the court by the police, the police prosecutor would be allowed to carry on.
Having settled that, Mr. Ojeh, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, formally moved the application for withdrawal of the charges against
the accused persons to allow “further interrogation on the case.”
Again, Mr. Akintola did not oppose to the application, but prayed the court to strike out the case and discharge and acquit the accused
Delivering her ruling on the application, the magistrate said, “the complainant is hereby allowed to withdraw the charge against the accused persons and others at large. The charge is hereby struck out.”
She also noted that since the court is a temple of justice, it would not want to be a clog in the wheel of fairness and justice, adding that since the premise of the police was to allow it further its investigation on the killing, the application should be allowed.
Her pronouncement lightened the court hall as Mr. Folarin’s supporters burst into shouts of victory.
After a few minutes when the noise subsided, Mr. Akintola still asked the court to give an order to release the accused persons, since the order to remand them in prison earlier came from the same court.
The court also obliged him, but the accused persons could not leave the court premises until some hours later due to efforts to perfect
papers of their discharge.
Mr. Folarin left the court yesterday for the police headquarters for a meeting with Mr. Bolanta, probably on the restoration of his security
aides withdrawn few hours after the killing of Eleweomo, and it was also learnt that he was flown to Abuja last night.
An Oyo State High Court had, on Wednesday, fixed Monday for ruling on the bail application argued on their behalf.
The ruling will not be necessary anymore as the charges against the accused persons have been withdrawn and the accused persons are no more in custody.
The report was published by all