10 August 2016, Abuja – The scheduled arraignment of a businessman, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, before a High Court of Federal Capital Territory on charges of criminal trespass and mischief was stalled due to accused his absence from court on Wednesday.
The accused person’s name had been mentioned in a yet-to-be-concluded investigation by the Economic into alleged fraud in the allocation of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas.
His pending case before the FCT High Court was instituted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on July 1, 2016 and has nothing to do with the Malabu deal scam.
Dissatisfied with Abubakar’s absence from court on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. David Kaswe, applied to the trial judge to issue an arrest warrant against the accused.
He said the certificate of service filed by the court’s bailiff showed that the charges had been pasted to the residence of the accused 42, Gana Street, Maitama, as earlier directed by the court.
He then applied for the arrest warrant under section 131 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, “to ensure the production of the defendant to enable him to face his charges”.
But Justice Anenih rejected the application on the grounds that it would be “unfair” to take such action against him, since certificate of service showed that the charges, accompanied with other court processes were only pasted to the accused person’s residence on Tuesday.
The Attorney-General of the Federation filed two counts of criminal trespass and mischief against the businessman on July 1, 2016.
The prosecution accused Abubakar of forcefully entering Plot 105, Cadastral Zone, Aso Drive, a property said to be in lawful possession of one Alhaji Lawal Abbah, sometimes in January 2015.
The accused was said to have forcefully ejected all occupants of the house including Abbah’s security men and members of his families, and went ahead to “cause” the house to be demolished.
The prosecution said the offence of criminal trespass is punishable under section 352 of the Penal Code Law.
It also said the accused had by causing the property to be demolished, committed an offence of mischief punishable under 327 of the Penal Code Law.
Kaswe, a Principal State Counsel, signed the charges numbered, CR/240/2016.
The trial court had earlier last week ordered a substituted service of the charges on him after “several” attempts to personally serve him had failed.
The court ordered that the charges be pasted to the accused person’s residence at 42, Gana Street, Maitama, in lieu of personal service.
The judge had after granting the order of substituted service fixed Wednesday for the arraignment.
The charges preferred against the accused read, “That you Aliyu Abubakar on or about the month of January 2015 at Plot 105, Cadastral Zone, Aso Drive, Abuja, within the jurisidiction of this honourable court, committed an offence in that, you forcefully entered Plot 105, Cadastral Zone, Aso Drive, property in lawful possession of Alhaji Lawal Abbah and forced out all occupants of the house including his security men and their families, you thereby committed the offence of criminal trespass punishable under section 352 of the Penal Code Law.