Senior Magistrate Court 1 sitting in Gabasawa, Taiwo Road, Kaduna, on Thursday ordered that one Mrs Yemi Awolola who is standing trial for inflicting bodily pain on a 14-year-old house help, Princess Michael, be remanded in a correctional facility (prison) until September 10, 2020, when the case will be transferred to a High Court.
Senior Magistrate Court, 3 sitting in Gabasawa, Taiwo Road, Kaduna, had on Monday, July 13, adjourned child torture case levelled against Mrs Yemi Awolola (first defendant) and two minors (second and third defendants) with court registration case number: KMD/204XB/2020, till August 27, 2020, for hearing.
However, the case came up on Thursday, August 27, in Magistrate Court 1 instead of Court 3 because the Magistrate in charge of Court 3 has been transferred to another court.
The presiding Magistrate, Court 1, Benjamin Hassan, after reading the appeal to the three defendants both in English and Hausa languages pointed out that, in relation to section 207 of First Information Report (FIR), it is only the High Court that can entertain the matter as Magistrate court lacks the jurisdiction to continue.
As it stands, the case is expected to be transferred to a High Court when it comes up on September 10 in Magistrate Court 1 pending the advice from the Ministry of Justice, Kaduna State.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the three defendants, Ali Ibrahim Omachi told judiciary correspondents outside the courtroom that, there was an effort to resolve the matter outside court leveraging on plea bargain as enshrined in Nigerian laws.
He said, “the case is now before a new Magistrate because the first Magistrate has been transferred to another court.
“The FIR was read to the first defendant, but the new Magistrate pointed out that in relation to section 207 of FIR, it is the High Court that can entertain issue relating to that.
“He graciously acquitted the other two minors to bail because of their age and the comment from the Correctional Services that they don’t have the facility to keep them.
“But, before today, we have been speaking to the family to see how this matter can be resolved by plea bargain which is an option we want to explore and we are exploring it which I hope before the next adjourning date, we would have reached the point where we can inform the court about the process”, he said.
Also speaking, the immediate past Chairperson, International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) who is the complainant, in this case, Barrister Bukola Ajao, said, “everything is going to start afresh again when the high court takes over”
Reacting to the development within the court premises, Executive Director, Center for Resolution and Study of Domestic Violence, Prof Hauwau Evyn Yusuf said, justice must be served even though there is a process to resolve the matter through a plea bargain.
“Having been involved in this case from scratch, my expectation is that justice will be served.
“We will want to see the terms of the plea bargain for us to know whether we are moving in the right direction. Of course, acceptability of plea bargain is embedded in Nigerian Laws and as such, you cannot deprive the defendant of making plea bargain”, she said.
Gobroadsheet recalled that Mrs Yemi Awolola had on 3rd July 2020, at her residence, 1, Shagari Estate, Barnawa Kaduna, ordered her daughter (a minor and second defendant) and another house help (a minor third defendant) to hold the hands and legs of a14-year-old house help, Princess Michael, while she used lighter to burn her genitals and buttocks over allegation of hidden her foodstuff.
Sola Ojo, Kaduna