By Abimbola Ogunnaike
A Federal Capital Terrritory (FCT),High Court presided over by Justice Yusuf Halilu on Monday, 12 February, 2024, adjourned the trial of 20 former leaders of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) charged with attempted murder.
In the suit marked: CR/042/2023, the former union leaders, including a one-time National Chairman, Lucky Osesua, were charged with attempted murder, breach of peace and assault.
Also charged are Dayyabu Garga, Humble Obinna, Akinolu Olabisi, Godwin Nwaka, Tiamiu Sikiru, Abdulmimin Shaibu and John Amajuoyi.
Others are Zaira Aregbo, Patrick Erhivwor, Stephen Ogheneruemu, Gift Ukponku and Sunday Ezeocha.
The union members were alleged to have attacked NUPENG President, Wiliams Akporeha, General Secretary, Wale Afolabi and the newly elected National Chairman of the PTD branch of NUPENG, Augustine Egbon.
The NUPENG members were particularly alleged to have acted “in a manner likely to cause the death of one Comrade Wiliams Akporeha and Comrade Augustine Egbon”, when they laid siege at PTD’s office at No. 50 Moses Majekodenmi Crescent, Utako District in Abuja on Nov. 1.
In the suit, the defendants were further accused of voluntarily causing grievous bodily harm to Comrade Williams Akporeha, Comrade Olawale Afolabi, Comrade Solomon Kilanko and Comrade Augustine Egbon.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Halilu adjourned the case after the prosecution counsel, Mr Frank Longe, informed the court that the prosecution had filed an additional proof of evidence.
According to Halilu, there was a contractual agreement between the court and the defendants, adding that bail was a constitutional right since the defendants were presumed innocent by the constitution.
He then warned the defendants to avoid doing anything that might cause revocation of their bail.
The defence counsel, Mr Christopher Oshomegie, SAN, sought for adjournment, saying the defendants had filed a motion, notifying the court of change of counsel.
He said his clients have asked another counsel, Mr Enenche Ekoja, to take over their case, adding that there was the need for the defence to properly sort out the issue.
“There is nothing damaging than to have defendants who no longer have confidence in you representing them,” he told the court.
He, however, sought a brief adjournment to enable the defence team sort out themselves as well as go through the additional proof of evidence filed by the prosecution.
Meanwhile, the prosecution counsel said he was ready to go on with the case having brought some of its witnesses to court.
The counsel then informed the court that the defendants were still going about to cause trouble in spite of the fact that they were on bail.
Oshomegie denied the allegation and argued that his clients were gentlemen who would never engage in such criminal acts.
He, however, urged court to protect the defendants from those he described as ‘power mongers.’