A magistrate court in Sokoto has struck out a suit against suspects involved in the alleged murder of Deborah Emmanuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education.
On May 12, Deborah was attacked by a mob and set ablaze over comments purportedly considered to be an insult to Prophet Muhammad.
A video of the student being stoned and beaten with sticks was shared on social media.
The incident sparked outrage and condemnation across the country and the police command in Sokoto, subsequently, arrested two suspects in connection with the killing.
Court Frees Suspects Linked To Deborah’s Murder Over Police Failure To Diligently Pursue Suit
Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, the suspects were later arraigned before a magistrate court in the state on charges bordering on criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance.
Between the arraignment in May and September 2022, the case was adjourned at the instance of the police for several reasons.
On October 20, 2022, the case started over before another magistrate, Shaibu Ahmed.
On November 3, the police prosecutor told the court his witnesses were not present in court as they were not able to serve them.
The court adjourned to November 10 and advised the prosecution to ensure the witnesses were in court.
On November 28, the police prosecutor was absent from court and the case was adjourned to December 8. On the next adjourned date, both the prosecution and defendants were absent and the court adjourned the case to December 29.
On December 29, the defendants were present in court but the prosecution was absent.
M.B Abdallah, counsel to the defendants, then applied for the case to be struck out due to the absence of the prosecution.
But the court refused the application and adjourned the case to January 30, 2023.
The defendants then made another application for the striking out of the case and it was granted.
In his ruling, the magistrate held that “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,” the judge said.
Reacting to the outcome of the case in an interview with TheCable, Sunny Akanni, national coordinator of Olive Tree Citizen’s Rights Initiative (OTCRI), said the police were not keen on prosecuting the matter.
“I certainly suspect a foul play on the side of the police,” he said.
“As a lawyer, from day one, we know when a police prosecutor is not keen on prosecuting a case, this we can easily see in his readiness, particularly when the investigation is completed,
“This has portrayed the police as an organisation that is biased and supports the wishes of the government and not the constitution.
“I am going to write a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and attached the records of proceedings of the court to it.
“He needs to see what his men did in Sokoto, trivialising an important case as this.”
Akanni added that if the police refused to re-arraigned the two suspects he would file a suit against the IGP to compel the force to prosecute the suspects.