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Court discharges HEDA Chairman, Suraju from cyber stalking charges

By Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja

The Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Mr Olanrewaju Suraju has been discharged from cyber stalking crime charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

He was discharged by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

Suraju’s discharge followed a request from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami to withdraw the charge against the HEDA boss.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel Mrs Yewande Cole told the court that she had been directed by the Attorney General to withdraw the case.

“I have the instruction of the Attorney-General to withdraw the amended charge of two counts for further review.

“This means that the court will strike out the case and when we are ready to go on, we will come back and refile it,” Cole said.

She also argued that according to relevant provisions of the law, the defendant could only be discharged and not acquitted at this point.

Counsel to Suraju, Mr Muiz Banire, (SAN), however, asked to court to acquit his client saying that was the natural cause of action following such an application for withdrawal.

“It is law as contained in Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) that where such an application is made, the court will acquit the defendant.”

Banire also asked the court to order the release of the N7 million bond he posted to secure the bail of his client. The senior lawyer further asked the court to award N1 million cost to him.

In a short ruling, Justice Binta Nyako discharged Suraju and also discharged the N7 million bail bond.

Justice Nyako, however, ordered the prosecution to pay N250,000 to the defendant, whenever the case was going to be refiled.

Suraju was docked before Justice Nyako on a 2-count amended charge bordering on allegedly cyberstalking former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke.

The case was filed against the HEDA boss by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
In count one of the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/370/2021,

He was accused of intentionally circulating an audio telephone interview between one Ms Carlamaria Rumur, a reporter with RIA Reporter in Italy and Adoke via his twitter handle @HEDAagenda.

This, the charge alleged he knew to be false, for the purpose of causing insult to Adoke and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 24 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention ETC) Act 2015 and punishable under the same section of the act.

In count two, the defendant was accused of committing the same offense in count one via his Facebook handle, @HEDAResourcecentre.

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