By Patricia Nwaolai
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja presided over by the Honourable Justice Lawal Gummi, today (Thursday, November 29th) quashed the charge FCT/HC/CR/44/2007, Federal Republic of Nigeria against Garba Shehu, the Media Consultant to the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
In a ruling given on the preliminary objection filed his Counsel, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, Justice Gummi agreed with the defence that the charge did not disclose the commission of the offence by the Accused Person for which he was charged.
He described the Charge Sheet as being “bereft of material and particulars;” that” it did not disclose prima facie case against the accused person to require him to stand trial before this court” and it, therefore, “constituted an abuse of Court Process.”
The Obasanjo-led Federal Government, in its war against the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar had the State Security Service arrest Garba Shehu and while in detention, had his homes in Abuja and Kano broken into and searched.
The search revealed an SSS report on the killing of a Magazine Journalist, Bagauda Kaltho, who died in a bomb blast at the Durbar Hotel in Kaduna. Bagauda is suspected to have been killed by agents of the Abacha regime in that blast in 1996.
Based on the report of the incident found in his house, Garba was charged to Court and later, remanded in Prison for violating State Security. The charge read that former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors violated State Security by obtaining “classified matter (to wit intelligence summary on the suspected involvement of Bagauda Kaltho in the Kaduna Durbar Hotel bombing)” which he is not authorised on behalf of the federal government to obtain. He was also accused of reproducing and retaining the Classified Matter.
Garba Shehu in his reaction to the decision of the judge to free him said he thanked God for the courageous type of Judiciary He had given the nation; Atiku for availing him of high calibre defence lawyers and prayed God never to allow a tyrant to rule over the Nigerian people again. He also thanked the media for their support.