The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court was the scene of drama on Monday, when one Alhassan Abdulmumin, a prosecution witness in the homicide case against the killer wife, Maryam Sanda, disappeared when the judge called him to enter witness box.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the trial judge, Justice Halilu Yusuf, invited the prosecution counsel, Mr. James Idachaba, to present his witnesses. The counsel called on Abdulmumin, asking him to stand. But to the consternation of the court, he could not be found. Mr. Idachaba told the court that the witness was in court earlier, but could not understand his sudden disappearance. The lawyer jokingly told the court that the witness must have been intimidated by the stature of the defence counsel, Mr. JB Dawodu.

Mr. Dawodu had earlier filed a preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case and also the competence of the charge.

Maryam Sanda in court

He argued that the Attorney-General of the Federation should have looked into the charge to know if there is prima facie case. Mr. Dawodu maintained that there is no valid charge before the court and there is nothing to ignite the jurisdiction of the court. He urged the judge to hands off the case, adding that police did not have right to institute the case in the first place. 

"Why we should not deny the intervention of Attorney-General of Federation in the matter because these are steps, which ought to be taken before the case can be instituted," said Mr. Dawodu, who submitted that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised any time after the plea has been taken.

While objecting to the position of the defence counsel on the competence of the charge, Mr. Idachaba told the court that it was misconceived by his opposite number, adding that Section 109 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) was duly followed.

He posited that Section 359 and 376 of ACJA, which the defence counsel based his position on, do not apply unless if the matter is taken to the magistrate court, which he said even lacks jurisdiction over it.

"As far as this matter is concerned, it is completely regulated by Section 109 of ACJA. Once a plea has been taken, the court has jurisdiction to try the matter before it" Mr. Idachaba argued.

After listening to the arguments of the two sides, Justice Halilu ruled that the objection raised by the defence can wait and that that he would reserve ruling on the motion pending the hearing of the substantive matter. He therefore adjourned the matter to 19 and 20 April.

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