By Fehintola Wale, Abuja
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nnagozie Ugochukwu Godwin, who allegedly shot and killed Miss Anita Akapson, was yesterday granted bail in the sum of N50 million by Justice A. O Ebong of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Zuba, following his arraignment by the Nigerian Police.
The police commissioner had arraigned the 36-year-old accused on a criminal charge of shooting Akapson, 31, on October 13, 2018, at Katampe area of Abuja, to which he pleaded not guilty. The prosecution said the one-count charge was a culpable homicide contrary to Section 22(3) of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 22(4) of the same code.
Irked by the development, however, family lawyer to Sen. Nenadi Usman and constitutional lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, accused the prosecutor of “displaying inherent conspiracy and a clear attempt to shield one of their own” by granting the defendant bail.
According to the human rights activist, “the issues canvassed and argued in the counter-affidavit of the prosecution were so watery, porous and riddled with incompetence.”
Ajulo believed that the prosecution pretentiously presented his eight-paragraph counter-affidavit with merely three substantial paragraphs, stating: “As of fact, the presiding judge opined that bail was only granted to the defendant because the prosecution’s counsel failed to be diligent in his assignment.
“Considering the very nature of this case being one of the very many cases of police violation of citizen’s fundamental rights, leading to loss of life of a bright young lady, it was expected that the office of the Attorney General of the Federal, as the chief law officer, would have sprung into action, issued an advice and taken over the matter rather than permit the police to assist one of their own.
“The experience of today in court is indeed embarrassing, scandalous and leaves much to be desired. The act of the police prosecutor trying to hide under the cloak of the law, display lack of diligence and incompetence is tantamount to gross misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner, which we shall take up before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.
“I dare say that the system of prosecution in Nigeria needs to be overhauled and reconsidered, particularly the investigative procedures of the Nigerian Police.”
The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charge and afterwards, the prosecution counsel, Donatus Abah, requested for a date for commencement of trial. However, counsel to the defendant, Paul Samson, informed the court of his client’s bail application dated October 30, 2018 and filed the same day.
After taking submissions on the bail application by both counsel, the presiding Justice A. O Ebong admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties. The matter was adjourned till November 29, 2018 for commencement of trial.
The bail conditions included two sureties, who must be serving public servants not below the position of director; they must also be resident in their personal houses and must equally swear to an affidavit of means.
Also, the accused must not travel without the leave of court, and must live within the jurisdiction of the court in order to attend trial. Similarly, the defendant was ordered to deposit his international passport and other relevant travel documents with the court registrar, and until the bail conditions are met, the accused is to be remanded in prison custody.
Ebong said he granted the defendant bail because the police prosecutor failed to advance cogent reasons under the law why the accused should not be granted bail. The court also noted that the offence was not punishable by death but carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Whereas the defence counsel relied on Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act to persuade the court to grant the accused bail, Ebong said the section in particular applied to offences with not more than a three-year sentence.
According to him, all the factors that would have swayed the pendulum in favour of the prosecutor were not mentioned in his argument against the bail application.
He further noted that he was not granting the accused bail based on ill-health as submitted by the defence counsel, but because the prosecutor did not controvert the depositions in the defence counsel’s affidavit.