It was pure drama that took place at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday as a 29-year-old pharmacist, Solomon Akuma, refused to take a plea in the amended charge filed by the Nigeria Police on the bogus counts bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism, according to SaharaReporters.
Akuma is being prosecuted after his arrest on April 2, 2020, in Abia, Abia State for tweeting that he will “pay a Russian sniper to eliminate (President Muhammadu) Buhari and (Abba) Kyari (Buhari’s former Chief of Staff)” in response to a Twitter post asking “if $1m hits your account, your next move?”
Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo had on November 22, 2021, while delivering her judgement on the matter, struck out the case on the ground that it was defective
The court said there was no valid charge before the court and that the matter was not diligently prosecuted.
She said the case file would be returned to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the office of the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) for further action.
The matter was scheduled for Friday, December 17 for the hearing of the application for the discharge of the defendant from the Nigerian Correctional Service
It was filed by Solomon’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ukaegbu since the case had been struck out.
But surprisingly, the judge allowed the application of the amended charge and vacation of the judgement filed by the prosecution counsel to take prominence as she asked the defendant to take his plea, adding that there was an amended charge before the court.
But trouble started when the court registrar proceeded to read the amended charge and asked Akuma (defendant) whether he was guilty or not. But the defendant kept mute.
The defence counsel, while raising an objection to the amended charge, said his client would not take the plea on the ground that he had not seen the amended charge.
The lawyer said it would not be proper for him to take a plea without going through the charge.
He insisted that his client must see the charge preferred against him before taking his plea.
At this point, the trial judge gave the defence counsel 10 minutes to advise and consult with the defendant, who was in the dock and convince him to take his plea.
But Ukaegbu remained adamant as he insisted that even the entire day would not be enough for him and his client to go through the amended charge.
Suddenly the judge became infuriated as she interrupted Ukaegbu and asked him to sit down. She threatened to charge the lawyer for contempt of court for remaining standing while she was talking.
After the drama, the defence counsel asked the court for an adjournment.
The application was granted and the matter was adjourned to February 1, 2022, for the arraignment of the defendant in the event he decides to take his plea.
She also ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody.