A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, discharged a journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi, also known as Oba Akewi, of allegations bordering on insulting former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, discharged Jolayemi after the case was struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
The matter, which was listed for plea on today’s cause list, could not proceed due to the absence of the prosecution counsel, Joseph Offor, prompting the defendant’s lawyer, Soji Toki, to apply that the matter be struck out.
Toki reminded the court that since Offor was in court on March 30 after the matter was reassigned to the judge, the prosecution had not been coming to court.
The judge granted Toki’s application for being non-contested and struck out the charge.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the matter was initially assigned to Justice Anwuli Chikere in 2020, before her retirement.
Justice Chikere had ordered Jolayemi’s remand after he was arraigned for alleged spreading of an audio file said to have caused annoyance, ill-will, hatred, and insults towards the minister.
The judge ordered the defendant to be remanded in the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department Headquarters, in Abuja, pending the hearing of his bail application.
He was later granted bail before the matter was reassigned to Justice Nwite.
While the Inspector-General of Police was the complainant, Jolayemi was the sole defendant in a one-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/105/2020.
The prosecution was in court on March 30 when the matter came up before Nwite.
However, he was not in court on June 15 and the case was adjourned until today (Oct. 18).
Jolayemi, who anchors a Yoruba radio programme, “Bi aye se ri” on Osun State Broadcasting Service and Radio Kwara, was on May 5, 2020, arrested by the police for reciting a poem which was critical of the minister.
Jolayemi, the Vice-Chairman, Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria, Osun State Chapter, was subsequently brought to Abuja where he had been standing his trial.