An Abia State-based Pharmacist, Solomon Akuma, who has been in detention since his arrest in 2020 for saying that he would hire a Russian sniper to eliminate the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), regained freedom on Thursday.
Akuma had said that he would kill Buhari and his former Chief of Staff, late Abba Kyari, in a reply to a tweet asking, “If $1 million hits your account, your next move”.
Following his tweet, he (Akuma) was arrested by security operatives and taken to Kuje Correctional Centre in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja before being transferred to the Suleja Medium Security Custodial Centre, Niger State on December 31, 2022.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has ordered the immediate release of a 30-year-old pharmacist Akuma, who is standing trial on a trumped-up charge bordering on terrorism through his tweet.
The three-man panel in its ruling, on Thursday, ordered the Nigerian Correctional Services to release the young man from custody after spending almost three years in custody.
Recall that on November 22, 2021, Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo, while delivering her judgement on the matter, struck out the case on the ground that it was defective.
The court said there was no valid charge before the court and that the matter was not diligently prosecuted.
She said the case file would be returned to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the office of the Attorney General of Federation for further action and the matter was scheduled for Friday, December 17, 2021, for the hearing of the application for the discharge of the defendant from the Nigerian Correctional Service.
However, the judge allowed the application of an amended charge and vacation of the judgement filed by the prosecution counsel to take prominence as she asked the defendant to take his plea, adding that there was an amended charge before the court.
But when the court registrar proceeded to read the amended charge and asked Akuma (defendant) if he was guilty or not, the defendant kept mute.
The defence counsel, Emmanuel Ukaegbu, while raising an objection to the amended charge, said his client would not take the plea on the ground that he had not seen the amended charge.
The lawyer said it would not be proper for him to take a plea without going through the charge.
He insisted that his client must see the charge preferred against him before taking his plea.
At this point, the trial judge gave the defence counsel 10 minutes to advise and consult with the defendant, who was in the dock and convince him to take his plea.
But Ukaegbu remained adamant as he insisted that even the entire day would not be enough for him and his client to go through the amended charge.
The defence counsel asked the court for an adjournment due to the unclarity of the case and it was granted.
On April 4, 2022, Justice Ogunbanjo announced her withdrawal from the case over allegations of bias.
The judge was accused of showing the likelihood of bias against the defendant in a motion on notice marked FHC/ABJ/CR/97/2020 filed through the defence counsel and she was asked to recuse herself.
According to the suit, “The refusal of the Honourable court to make the appropriate consequential order discharging and releasing me from custody led to my being illegally detained.