The matter was first assigned to one magistrate court at Iyaganku before it was later transferred to State High Court.
A human rights and pro-democracy group, Take-It-Back Movement (TIB), Oyo State chapter, has accused the state governor, Seyi Makinde, the Nigeria Police and Justice Ladiran Akintola of the state high court of conspiring and conniving to send to jail, nine youths arrested over #EndSARS protest in 2020.
The group lamented that the trial of the nine persons arrested at the Ojoo area of Ibadan, the state capital around 2 am on November 13, 2020, has been continually frustrated by the police, court and Makinde’s administration.
The group described the governor, Justice Akintola, police and all the lawyers handling the case as “evil, corrupt, wicked, irresponsible and insensitive,” adding that they are using the “boys' case as a political game” while “Governor Makinde is portraying himself as a friend of the youth in media and using #FreeOyo11 for political appraisal for his second term.”
TIB in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Solomon Emiola and Secretary, Dimeji Salako, warned Makinde and Justice Akintola to desist from toying with the lives of Oyo #EndSARS protesters, adding that they are not criminals and should not be treated as such.
The statement, which was made available to SaharaReporters, read, “It is quite unfortunate that the Oyo State Government led by Engr Seyi Makinde, the Nigerian police and the Judiciary in Oyo State have connived to send nine innocent youths forcefully arrested on November 13, 2020, at Ojoo area of Ibadan around 2:00 am in the midnight to jail labelling them as EndSARS protesters.
“These persons have been standing trial since last year while remanded in prison and the case keeps getting adjourned at every court hearing. The matter was first assigned to one magistrate court at Iyaganku before it was later transferred to State High Court.
“The case file was assigned to Justice Moshood Abass of Court 2 before he was promoted to the post of President of Court of Appeal, it took days of frequent adjournments before we later found out that the Justice had been promoted.
“After the promotion of Justice Moshood Abass of Court 2, it took time before the case was reassigned to another Justice named Justice Ladiran Akintola of Court 7.
“TIB Oyo State engaged the Department of Public Prosecutor Oyo State in the person of Mr. Nathaniel in which in his statement, he affirmed to us that the ministry has failed in discharging their duties to serve the populace and also that they were not part of the process of prosecuting the accused protesters who are kept in prison.
“He further emphasized that the charges were not interrogated/investigated by their department before prosecuting the matter, that it was filed by the police legal department Oyo State Command; that he has issued a directive that will enhance granting the accused #FreeOyo11 bail on January 27 before Justice Ladiran Akintola. He said and we quote, ‘They are only playing devil's advocate in the matter’.
“Since the emergence of Justice Ladiran Akintola early this year January 27, 2022 the #EndSarsProtesters appeared before him and with the aim of getting them released on bail and also for Justice to go through the trumped-up charges levelled against these innocent persons, he adjourned the case till April 27 without considering the liberty of the accused being trampled upon by the State while he denied them bail.
“Appearing Again on April 27, after the mentioning of the case and reading the charges to the accused, and they all pleaded "not guilty" while some of the lawyers defending the accused raised bail application but the prosecutor turned it down, and the matter was adjourned again without proceeding to commencement of the trial but Justice Ladiran Akintola adjourned the trial till June 6, 2022, with the hope that the trial will commence fully.
“On June 6, the accused were fully represented in court but the prosecuting team were not ready with the witnesses assembled before the court to commence the trial and they were not fully available at the court and three lawyers from the defence team raised observation again on the bail application and Justice Ladiran Akintola said the trumped-up charges have 3 of the charges as murder and arson and he couldn't grant such bail but Barrister Ajijola argued further that his client was not indicted with the statement presented by the police to the court which was written by the IPO Sergeant Felix without the consent of any legal luminary.
“At the end, the matter was adjourned again on the pronouncement by Justice Ladiran Akintola that if the prosecuting team fail to assemble all their witnesses in the next adjourned date that he would ‘grant them bail or strike out the matter’ and the matter was adjourned till July 6, 2022, a month interval.
“Today 6th of July was another date of the trial and as usual, the Judge in the person of Justice Ladiran Akintola adjourned the case again to 14th of November 2022 without granting these boys bail after spending almost 19 months in jail for doing nothing.
“Coming to court today, with the previous standpoint of the Justice Ladiran Akintola hope was in futility because according to his statement on June 6, 2022, he stated ‘if the prosecution fails to present all their witnesses, he will grant bail or strike out the matter’ but to our surprise, the table turned, before the commencement of I/36C/2021 case he went on a short break before he started the trial, and introduction of the accused, lawyers, both the defence and prosecutor.
“The prosecuting lawyer opened the floor for engagement and showed the 4 - 5 witnesses to Justice Ladiran Akintola and the defence lawyers raised their observation on the delay tactics that were playing out in the matter and Justice Ladiran Akintola responded with legal terminologies that led to an adjournment till November 14, 2022, while he said ‘What gives the defence lawyer assurance of him granting them bail?’
“We at the Take-It-Back (TIB) Movement, Oyo State Chapter concluded today after the court hearing that Justice Ladiran Akintola and the lawyers handling the case of these boys are evil, corrupt, wicked, irresponsible and insensitive just like Governor Seyi Makinde who has decided to use the boys' case as a political game, and he (Gov. Seyi Makinde) portraying himself as a friend of the youth in media and using #FreeOyo11 for the political appraisal for his second term.
“These boys have spent over a year, spending 2 - New Year Eves in jail as accused and Justice Akintola still deemed it fit to remand them in prison without taking into consideration their right to liberty as cited in the 1999 Constitution.
“The TIB movement is not asking the police not to probe the boys but they should do it in a humane manner. According to the law, an accused is still innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
“Those boys were arrested by the police around their area of residence late in the night, labelling them as EndSARS protesters without knowing what they did wrong.
“We are calling on Governor Seyi Makinde and Justice Ladiran Akintola to desist from toying with the lives of Oyo EndSARS protesters because they are not criminals hence, they should stop treating them as one.
“We also call on lovers of Justice in Nigeria to call Governor Seyi Makinde and Justice Ladiran Akintola to order and ask them not to send these innocent youths to prison. They deserve to be released.
“Also, we hereby ask Justice Ladiran Akintola to desist from manipulative tactics of Seyi Makinde in sabotaging the independence of the Judiciary for Governor Seyi Makinde's second term ambition.”