Justice Sybil Nwaka-Gbagi has been accused of refusing to issue the release order of one Catherine Edet Ekaete despite the withdrawal of trial by the Lagos State Government.
The Lagos State Government in 2017 initiated a case of concealing of child defilement against Ekaete.
The offence attracts a maximum sentence of two years in prison according to the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.
Since the commencement of trial in 2018, the judge remanded Ekaete, a mother of two in prison.
However, after spending two years in prison, the Lagos State Government dropped the case against Ekaete after a letter by her lawyer.
In the letter to the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), obtained by SaharaReporters, the counsel to Ekaete, C. O. Achonye, informed the state that Ekaete, while awaiting trial, had spent time in prison beyond the maximum jail term of the offence levelled against her.
“The legal advice of the honourable Director of Public Prosecution dated 12th March 2018 recommends that the second defendant should be charged with the offence of Accessory after the fact of defilement contrary to Section 415 of the Criminal Law, Ch. C17, Vol. 3, Laws of Lagos State 2015, which prescribes two year imprisonment upon conviction.
“From the 13th April 2017, the second defendant was remanded in custody by the magistrate court, till date, the second defendant has spent three years and four months in the Nigerian Correctional Centre, which is far above the prescribed punishment for the offence of Accessory after the fact of defilement under Section 415 of the Criminal Law
“From the 13th April 2017, the second defendant was remanded in custody by the magistrate court, till date, the second defendant has spent three years and four months in the Nigerian Correctional Centre, which is far above the prescribed punishment for the offence of Accessory after the fact of defilement under Section 415 of the Criminal Law,” the letter partly reads.
After considering the letter, the Attorney-General of Lagos opted to withdraw the case against Ekaete for her to be discharged.
“Having spent more than the prescribed years, it is the resolution of the Office of the Attorney-General, that the case against the applicant/second defendant be discharged.
“An amended charge be preferred against the first defendant and to proceed against him,” the letter from the Attorney-General to the judge reads.
However, following the letter, the judge, Justice Nwaka-Gbagi, refused to issue the release order for Ekaete.
SaharaReporters gathered that after the letter, the case had been heard three times with the judge refusing to give the release order to the prison.
At the last date the case was to be heard, the judge refused to sit, adjourning the matter to November 23, 2020.
The lawyer urged the judge to grant the release of Ekaete, noting that she needed to access health care and in order to cater for her two children.
“This lady is a mother of two young girls who were 13 and eight years old as at the time of her arrest in 2017.
“This lady seems to have lost her sense of reasoning; she talked incoherently any time I had an opportunity to speak with her,” the lawyer added.