Anti-Tinubu protester Obiajulu Uja remanded in prison for medical observation

Obiajulu Uja

Obiajulu Uja, being taken off Ibom Air while shouting against inauguration of President-elect, Bola Tinubu

A Magistrate Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the remand of Obiajulu Uja, the passenger forcefully taken off an Ibom Air Flight in Abuja while shouting that President-elect, Bola Tinubu should not be inaugurated in Kuje prison for one month for medical observation of his mental status.

While at the prison, the court ordered that Ujah should be carefully examined by medical personnel who will give a report on the state of his mind in writing.

Ujah, believed to be one of the supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, popularly called the Obidients was handed over to the police for prosecution for exhibiting “inappropriate behavior,” on the Abuja-Lagos bound Ibom Air flight on 31 March.

Ujah was subsequently arraigned before Magistrate Abdulazeel Ismail Muhammed of the Federal Capital Territory FCT Magistrate Court.

However, his lawyer, Ejike Ugwu, had alleged that he was not of sound mental health when he was first arraigned in court on 11 April and demanded that he should given bail.

However, the Senior Magistrate dismissed the bail application.

He held that the exhibits attached to the application did not indicate that the defendant was unfit for trial but rather, that he is of unsound mind.

The Magistrate also held that while the constitution guarantees every person’s liberty, a court can deprive a person of their liberty based on health grounds.

He held that where the mental capacity of a defendant is an issue, the court has the duty to ascertain the medical situation of such defendant.

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The Magistrate consequently ordered remand of Uja at the Kuje prison. In addition, he ordered that the head of Kuje prison to take Uja to a government hospital to ascertain his mental capacity.

At the resumption of the hearing on Thursday, the Magistrate in his ruling on the mental state of the defendant, said “Having carefully considered, examined and scrutinized the Medical Report before me, dated 17th day of April, 2023 and signed by Dr. Olusegun Shoyombo, Consultant Psychiatrists. I am of the considered opinion that the defendant in the instant case, cannot defend himself.

“In the light of this, and having found that the defendant requires urgent medical attention. In the interest of justice, I hereby invoke the Provision of Section 278(3) & (4) ACJA, 2015 which provides thus; ‘Where the Court is not satisfied that the defendant is capable of making his defence, the Court shall adjourn the trial or proceedings and shall remand the person for a period not exceeding 1 month to be detained for observation in some suitable place.

“A defendant detained in accordance with subsection (3) of this section shall be kept under observation by a medical officer during the period of his remand and before the expiration of that period, the medical officer shall:

“Give to the court his opinion in writing as to the state of mind of that person; and Where he is unable within the period to form any definite opinion, he shall so certify to the court and ask for a further remand and such further remand may extend to a period of 3 months.

“It is my considered opinion in the instant case, that remanding the defendant for observation in a suitable place with requisite multidisciplinary medical care and medical personnel, will promote and guarantee the interest of justice and fundamental right of the defendant guaranteed under Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in 2018.

“From all these, and the need to prevent the risk of jumping medical treatment and having found that, Kuje Correctional Facility has the required and requisite medical personnel. I hereby order that, the defendant be remanded for medical observation for 1 month, at Kuje correctional facility”.

The Magistrate said that the medical personnel shall accord the defendant the requisite medical treatment, at the expense of Federal Government of Nigeria.

He also ordered that the medical officer shall provide to the court his opinion in writing as to the state of mind of the defendant, during the period of his remand and before the expiration of that period.

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