The defence team in the blasphemy case against Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara has said Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, cannot appear before the Upper Sharia Court.
Speaking in court, the defence team led by Barrister Bakaro said the SANs, that include Suraj Sa’eda, Prof Mamman Lawal Yusufari, Muhammad Sani Katu and Dr Nasiru Adamu Aliyu, cannot stand for the state government in a case before the Sharia Court because it contravenes the rules of their engagement.
Furthermore, the defence counsel also challenged the presentation of new charges against the accused after the earlier First Information Report, FIR, on which he was arraigned before the court.
“We are against the fiat given to the SANs by the Attorney-General of the state because the references they made to justify that do not exist in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which include sec 211(b)— such does not exist in the Constitution.
“The AG and the SANs did not get it right as to their capability to stand in this case before this court.
“Based on this, we are saying that there is no fiat before the court for the SANs to stand in the case. Hence they have no right to stand before the court and speak or even present charges.
“SANs cannot come before any court that is below a High Court let alone this court and those below it.
“Every lawyer has the right to practice based on Sec 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act.
“It established the Committee that determined how SANs will work. Sec 3 of the Act states clearly which court they can stand before and this court is not one of such.
“More so, Sec 6(3) of the Nigerian Constitution has clearly forbidden the SANs to present charges before any court in which they have no permission to stand.
“As regards the charges, we will not accept them because it is forbidden under the Islamic law to alter, add, reduce or change charges once they are filed.
“Our client has been arraigned before the court based on the FIR and he had since pleaded not guilty.
“We call on the honourable court to not only slate out the SANs from the case but to also continue with the case based on the FIR presented earlier,” the defence counsel stated.
Responding, the state government team insisted that legal proceedings have established that the charges be read before anything can be said by the defence counsel.
“It is legally stated by law that where there is a charge, it has to be read before anything can be said by the defence.
“We want the court to read the charges to the accused to plead guilty or not guilty,” the SAN stated.
The Upper Sharia Court judge, Ibrahim Sarki Yola, decided to adjourn the case to decide whether the SANs can stand in the case and if they can, whether the case can continue on the newly-presented charges.
He said that the case will continue on September 2.