Criminal Trial Delays – Case Of Chief Isaac Jolapamo
The role of the courts in the administration of justice is sacrosanct to the stability of human society. However, despite these crucial roles of the judiciary, the judicial process is often painstakingly slow and leaves much to be desired.
This has made many people lose confidence in using the courts as it is mostly believed that delayed justice is denied justice.
In Nigeria, it’s not uncommon for criminal defendants to delay adjudication of their case as long as they reasonably can and as long as the judge will allow it.
The most common delay tactic is raising of preliminary objections by challenging the jurisdiction of the trial court, or the validity of charge itself based on some perceived defects, which may sometimes be imaginary.
For instance, several attempts by the Nigeria Police Force, and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), to arraign the former President of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Chief Isaac Jolapamo, over alleged unlawful possession of firearms had suffered many delays.
The embattled former NISA President had through his lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, approached the court to seek an order of interim injunction restraining IGP, AGF either by themselves, servants or privies from arranging him via charge No. FHC/L/404C/22 over illegal possession of firearms at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, pending the final determination of the origination motion.
Insiders revealed that instead of serving court hearing notice at the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Alagbon, where the charge against Jolapamo emanated, hearing notice issued by the court was intentionally served at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had fixed December 2, 2022, when the embattled former ship owner (Jolapamo), will be arraigned over alleged illegal possession of firearms.
But several attempts to arraign the shipping magnate before the court were stalled due to his absence in court.
When the matter was mentioned, Police prosecutor, Anthony Iyeye, told the court that the matter was for arraignment and for the Defendant to take his plea.
However, Jolapamo’s counsel, Mr. Femi Falana SAN told the court that the defendant has been hospitalised, due to undisclosed ailment hence he was not present in court to take his plea.
Nonetheless, the prosecutor insisted that the defendant must be brought to court, and that he was not aware of his ailment.
Consequently, the presiding Judge Yelin Bogoro adjourned the suit till December 2, 2022, for the defendant to be arraigned.
In the 3-count charge number FHC/L/404c/22 filed before the court, it was alleged that Chief Isaac Jolapamo was in possession of several Firearms namely, Mar-22 Calibre Rifle, pump-action firearm, and a Double-barrell, all without lawful authorisation.
The charge as filed against the defendant: “That you Mr. Isaac Jolapamo ‘M‘, sometime in March 2021 in Ikoyi, , Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit a felony, to wit; unlawful possession of Mar-22 Calibre Rifle with reference number 967475; you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3, and punishable under section 27(1)(a)(i) of the Firearms Act.
“That you Mr. Isaac Jolapamo ‘M’, sometime in March 2021 in Ikoyi, Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit a | felony, to wit; unlawful possession of Pump-Action with reference number 9331425, you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 4 and punishable under section 27(1)(b)(i) of the Firearms Act.
“That you, Mr. Isaac Jolapamo ‘M’, sometime in March 2021 in Ikoyi, Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit a felony, to wit: unlawful possession of Double-barrell gun; you thereby ‘committed an offence contrary to section 4 and punishable under section 127 (1)(b)(i) of the Firearms Act.”