Senior Magistrate Court 1 sitting in Gabasawa, Taiwo Road, Kaduna, has ordered that 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 until September 10, 2020, when the case will be transferred to a high court.
Senior Magistrate Court 3 sitting in Gabasawa had, on July 13, adjourned the child torture case levelled against Mrs Awolola (first defendant) and two minors (second and third defendants) with court registration case number: KMD/204XB/2020, till August 27, 2020, for hearing.
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 the Penal Code, it is only a high court that can entertain the matter as magistrate courts lack jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the three defendants, Ali Ibrahim Omachi, told journalists outside the courtroom that there was an effort to resolve the matter outside the 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 new Magistrate graciously acquitted the 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.”
Also speaking, the immediate past Chairperson, International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) who is the complainant, Barrister Bukola Ajao, said, “Everything is going to start afresh 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.
Mrs Yemi Awolola had, on 3rd July, 2020, allegedly ordered her daughter (a minor and second defendant) and another house help (a minor third defendant) to hold the hands and legs of Princess Michael; her 14-year-old house help while she used a lighter to burn her genitals and buttocks over allegation of stealing her foodstuff.