How Governor Fayemi-led Ekiti Government Is Abusing Court Process In Trial Of #EndSARS Protester, Moyinoluwa—Lawyer

Student activist, Moyinoluwa Olowoyo, who was arrested over his participation in the #EndSARS protest last year, was on Wednesday arraigned before a high court in the state. 

This was confirmed by his counsel, Femi Ariyo in an interview with SaharaReporters.

Ekiti State government as the complainant had alleged that Moyinoluwa conspired to commit an offence of malicious damage on October 18, 2020.

SaharaReporters had reported last year that Moyinoluwa was arrested by the police and secretly moved to the police headquarters, Abuja, where he was detained for 30 days without trial.

However, after pressure from Nigerians, the police moved him back to Ekiti, where he was detained before his arraignment in November 2020.

According to Ariyo, the student activist has been formerly arraigned at a magistrate court and charged with arson.

At his arraignment, the magistrate, Abdul Lawal, granted Moyinoluwa bail in liberal terms.

He was able to perfect his bail condition and was set free by the police.

But months after regaining his freedom, the Kayode Fayemi-led government filed another suit at the High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, the state capital to ensure another illegal detention of Moyinoluwa.

This, the lawyer described as illegal and unconstitutional since the case is on the same subject matter and involves the same party.

He said he had tried to file an objection to dismiss the second suit but had shelved that aside to give the defendant a soft-landing. 

Ariyo added that he was working on filing a bail application to secure Moyinoluwa’s release but that he would be put in police custody as against the suggestion of the prosecution counsel.

He told SaharaReporters: “What happened was that he was arraigned before the magistrate court and was granted bail but they filed at the high court again on the same subject matter.

“We later observed that it is an abuse of court process for him to be tried again for an offence for which he has been granted bail initially; the same subject matter, the same party, the same everything. 

“He has been granted bail, the lower court has the jurisdiction, has the power to hear the case and that is why he has been granted bail so it is a bailable offence. 

“The judge today said the defendant is not arraigned before him, that he cannot assume jurisdiction neither can he hear the application we filed and that the court should not continue hearing that case. 

“He said he must assume jurisdiction and if he must do that, the defendant must be arraigned before him, that’s when he can hear the application. When they arraigned him, I observed that there won’t be a need for the application again because I want to give a soft-landing to the defendant.

“Going on with the main matter, I made another application arguing issues of law and other things that despite the fact that there is no formal application before the court (summon for bail), Moyinoluwa Olowoyo can still be granted bail.

“The judge said I should go and bring a formal application to that. He said we should pick a nearest date and I selected Friday this week. 

“The other lawyer said he should be taken to correctional centre and I said he is standing trial in the magistrate court and the matter is coming up on November 9 and that’s what we are trying to avoid. Somebody cannot be appearing before two courts over the same matter. 

“I argued that he should be put in police custody because the offences are under felony and misdemeanour. The bail application will be filed and served tomorrow, we then go to court to argue the application and he will be granted bail.”

#EndSARS protest was championed by Nigerian youths last year to call for the disbandment of a brutal police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

A court document earlier obtained by SaharaReporters read in part, “The court is informed by the Attorney-General on behalf of the State that Moyinoluwa Victor Olowoyo is charged with the following offence:
“Count 1: conspiracy contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C16, Laws of Ekiti State of Nigeria, 2012.

“Moyinoluwa Victor Olowoyo with others at large on or about the 18th day of October 2020 at Ado-Ekiti within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire together to commit an offence to wit: Malicious Damage.
“Count 2: Malicious Damage contrary to Section 451 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C16, Laws of Ekiti State of Nigeria, 2012.
“Moyinoluwa Victor Olowoyo with others at large on or about the 18th day of October 2020 at Ado-Ekiti within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did destroy the vehicle of the press crew of the His Excellency, the Governor of Ekiti State.”

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