Court discharges HEDA chair, Suraju of cyberstalking charges
Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olanrewaju Suraju, has been discharged of cyberstalking charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
He was given a clean bill of health, yesterday, by a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Suraju’s discharge followed a request from the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
At the resumed hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Yewande Cole, told the court that she had been directed by the AGF to withdraw the case.
Her words: “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.”
She argued that according to relevant provisions of the law, the defendant could only be discharged, and not acquitted at this point.
Suraju’s lawyer, Muiz Banire, (SAN), asked the court to acquit his client, saying that was the natural cause of action following the 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,” he submitted.
He also prayed 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 with a N7 million bail bond.
She, however, ordered the prosecution to pay N250,000 to the defendant whenever the case was going to be refiled.
In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/370/2021, the HEDA boss was accused of intentionally circulating an audio telephone interview between one Carlamaria Rumur, a reporter with RIAReporter in Italy, and former AGF and minister of Justice, Mohammed 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 law.
In count two, the defendant was accused of committing the same offence in count one via his Facebook handle, @HEDAResourcecentre.