The Ilorin Magistrate’s Court, on Thursday, was the scene of drama when lawyers representing Mr. Jimoh Adeshina, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara Central Senatorial District, announced their client’s wish to discontinue a libel suit filed against Mr. Biodun Baba, a Kwara State civil servant.
Mr. Adesina, a rabid supporter of the Senate President, Mr. Bukola Saraki, had filed a criminal complaint on July 18, claiming that Mr. Baba libeled the Senate President via a Facebook post.
Mr. Baba had responded with disbelief to Mr. Saraki’s discharge and acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which tried him for false assets declaration, by posting: "If the judge of the world acquits you, what about God."
The ordeal of the defendant, who subsequently had his teaching appointment terminated by the Kwara State government, sparked a wave of public sympathy. He was also removed from his position as APC Secretary in Gambari Ward 1, Ilorin East Local Government Area.
As early as 8 am on Thursday, Ilorin residents arrived the court in throngs to solidarize with him, as he was to be arraigned.
Mr. Adesina has represented two lawyers, Messrs. S.U Solagberu and A.B Abdulrasheed, while over 20 counsels announced appearance for Mr. Baba, raising expectations of a fierce legal battle.
Rather than a keen legal tussle, what the huge crowd at the court got was an announcement by Mr. Solagberu that he had been directed by his client to discontinue the case.
"Yesterday (Wednesday), around 4:30 pm, I received a letter from the complainant instructing the withdrawal of the case. This is as result of the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians, traditional institutions, Ilorin Emirate and other stakeholders,” the lawyer told the court.
But the move was not well received by Mr. Sambo Murtala, lead counsel to Mr. Baba, who described the case as a waste of the precious time of the court. He also branded the case as frivolous and an abuse of court process.
"Ordinarily, we would not be objecting to the withdrawal, but it is a safer position of the court in a situation of non-compoundable offense that the complainant makes a proper application before this honorable court and it should be supported by a weighty affidavit demonstrating the wish of the complainant to compound the said non-compoundable
offense,” said Mr. Murtala.
This, he explained, will assist the court in its record for the future and for the case to be properly dismissed.
However, Magistrate A.I Dasuki adjourned the matter till August 3 for judgment, sparking wild jubilation among Mr. Baba’s sympathizers.