An Ekiti State High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti has discharged and acquitted the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Jide Awe, and two others who were arraigned for murder.
The defendants had been on trial for the alleged murder of Madam Juliana Adewunmi and Murphy Jeje, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2013.
The late Adewunmi was the mother of Mr. Segun Adewunmi, the current Deputy Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
The two others discharged by Justice Bamidele Omotosho are Sola Adenijo and Sefiu Owonikoko. But Owonikoko died about three weeks ago.
Their discharge and acquittal followed the withdrawal of the murder charges on Wednesday by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kolapo Kolade, on the order of Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Kolade said the state was withdrawing the case in order to promote peace and brotherliness among the people of Erinjiyan Ekiti, which is the community where both the complainant and the defendants in the matter hail from.
He also said the governor consented to the withdrawal of the case in spite of political differences because of his belief in posterity, peace and welfare of the people of the community which was said to have been divided over the court case.
Speaking with newsmen on the development, Kolade said, “What happened in court today is far beyond politics; the governor, in his usual characteristic manner of promoting peace and brotherliness in all communities in Ekiti and across party lines, has intervened.
“In this matter, so many good people across Nigeria, even the defendants in this matter, have appealed to His Excellency to intervene in this matter, particularly in Erijinyan, more so as the defendants and complainant are of the same family. The complainants have given the state the go-ahead and said the matter should be withdrawn. This development equally supports the cause of justice. One of the cardinal principles of justice is promotion of peace.”
One of the defence counsel in the matter, Ibrahim Olanrewaju, commended the state governor for withdrawing the case.
“Reason seems to have prevailed today; the attorney general himself came to court to withdraw the charge. And by the provision of our law, the court was left with no option, but to discharge and acquit the defendants.
“This simply means that this charge can’t be filed in any court again. Like you all know the genesis of the case, we are not saying that somebody was not murdered, but we all know that it is more of political fight than looking for justice.
“We salute the state for doing this, we salute the courage of the attorney general for the bold step and we salute the courage of our Lord, Justice Omotoso, for discharging and also acquitting the defendants. He could have just discharged without acquitting them.”