The state High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has ordered the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to immediately recall Superintendent Route Commander, Abochi John, suspended over a stolen phone.
It was learnt that John, the Acting Unit Head of Operations, Mbak Unit Command in Itu Local Government Area, was suspended by the FRSC and his salary stopped for receiving a stolen Samsung Galaxy J7 phone in 2016 said to be worth N75,000.
Presiding judge, Justice Ntong Ntong, discharged and acquitted the 53-year-old indigene of Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, alongside one Anietie Okokon Udoh, a 37-year-old father of four children from Ikot Ayang Itam in Itu Local Government Area of two-count charge of receiving stolen property.
The court dismissed the charge against John and Udoh and declared that by virtue of the evidence, the accused were innocent.
The court also ordered the “Federal Road Safety Corps to pay John, all his salaries, allowances, entitlements and such other benefits accruable to him from the day of his suspension till date.
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“The reinstatement of the suspended FRSC officer, shall take effect forthwith and the payments of his salaries carried out within three months, on or before 16th April, 2023.
“It is worrisome why the FRSC officer was suspended when the Federal Road Safety Corps ought to know that an accused person is presumed innocent during the trial.
“In criminal trial, the onus lies on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and that even when the accused person admitted committing the offence, the prosecution is still not relieved of its burden,” the judge stated.
Justice Ntong said the prosecution created serious doubts in the mind of the court with the first prosecution witness, Mrs Utomobong Johnson, the Head of Administration, Legal, of El-Coolex Limited, the company that was allegedly robbed, testifying on a hearsay evidence, not admissible in law.
The court stated that the fourth Prosecution Witness, Mr. Deeka Nwigbara from the Anti-Robbery Squad, State Criminal Investigation Department, Uyo, who was assigned to investigate the matter, could not confirm how the second prosecution witness, Somairi Dienye Jaja, the Managing Director of the company, tracked the stolen phones to the accused persons.
Justice Ntong further said that “Since the court was not told who stole the phones and where the phones were stolen from, the police should return the nine phones tendered as exhibits to the owners.”