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Nigerian Court Adjourns Cyberstalking Charge Filed By Ned Nwoko Against Activist, Sowore To March 22 For Hearing

February 3, 2023

The case was adjourned to March 22, 2023, for a hearing.

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned a case of defamation and cyberstalking charge filed by the police at the instance of a former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko against human rights activist Omoyele Sowore and SaharaReporters, an online news platform.

The case was adjourned to March 22, 2023, for a hearing.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case scheduled after the prosecution counsel, Edwin Inegbenoise, said that he had not seen the motion on notice filed and served by the defence counsel, Tope Temokun, asking the court to quash the charge against Sowore for being incompetent.

The judge also took judicial notice of the fact that the defendant is a presidential candidate in the forthcoming general elections. He said he would allow him enough time to prepare for the election and therefore adjourned the matter to a date after the election.

In his submission, the prosecution lawyer said he only had the motion on notice dated June 10, 2022, in which the defence counsel, Temokun is also asking the court to set aside the service of the charge meant for Sahara Reporters on Sowore.

But the defence counsel insisted that he had served him all the processes ahead of time which were still pending before the court.

Temokun told the court, "We actually have three pending applications before the court and we want to withdraw one this morning. The application the prosecution counsel referred to is pending before the court. It is an application asking the court to set aside the service on the 1st defendant in the dock the processes meant for the other defendants.

“We also have an application asking the court to quash counts 1 and 2 against the 1st and 2nd defendants."

After he had listened to the submission of the parties involved in the case, the trial judge, therefore, adjourned the case to March 22, 2023, for the hearing of the pending applications filed by the defence counsel.

Following an application for the amendment of the charge by the prosecution counsel, the judge on June 2, 2022 ordered the service of SaharaReporters Media Group Incorporated which was smuggled into the case by the police as 3rd defendant on Sowore in the court.

The action elicited a protest from Sowore when he told the court that he had resigned as director of SaharaReporters Media Group Incorporated in 2019 when he returned to Nigeria to contest for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The defence counsel raised an objection and insisted that the service should not be served on his client owing to the fact that 1st defendant cannot take service on behalf of 2nd and 3rd defendants, being a co-defendant in a criminal charge whose action and decision are not binding on the other co-defendant in criminal law.

He maintained that asking Sowore to be served and to take a plea on behalf of 2nd and 3rd defendants was a clear violation of the provisions of Section 390 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Sowore was violently arrested on February 24, 2022  at the entrance of the Court of Appeal following a petition of criminal defamation against him and Sahara Reporters.