Home / News / Sowore’s Right To Fair Trial: Buhari’s Face-covered Witnesses Should Look Sowore In Face By Bayo Oluwasanmi

Sowore’s Right To Fair Trial: Buhari’s Face-covered Witnesses Should Look Sowore In Face By Bayo Oluwasanmi

Bayo Oluwasanmi
Bayo Oluwasanmi

Bayo Oluwasanmi

It has become the trademark of Buhari’s government to always sprinkle laugh-out-loud humour on important national sensitive issues. It is therefore with home brewed laughter that I read General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime had filed a motion to allow mask witnesses to testify in the upcoming trumped up trial of treason against Omoyele Sowore March 11, 12, and 13, 2020.

In a criminal trial where the accused in this case Omoyele Sowore, was charged with treason to overthrow a democratically elected government, face-to-face confrontation and demeanour evidence are critical to Sowore’s right to a fair trial. 

The demeanour of a witnesses is generally considered an important factor in assessing the credibility of the witness. Sowore’s right to adduce and challenge evidence presented by Buhari’s regime will ensure the court’s and Sowore’s access to all possible forms of demeanour evidence.

To ensure justice and fairness, the court should deny the prosecutor the right to use mask witness on the following grounds:

1. Under the confrontation clause in the law, Sowore’s right will be violated if the court allowed Buhari’s witnesses to testify while wearing a mask. To allow any witness to testify against Sowore with his face covered is an intrusion on Sowore’s right to confrontation.

2. The court’s ability to observe the demeanour of witnesses forms a major part of a reliable assessment of credibility. The demeanour of witnesses is considered to be real evidence. When a court takes a note of witnesses’ demeanour, it is in effect observing an evidentiary fact.

3. The right to a face-to-face meeting between Sowore and Buhari’s witnesses affords some personal examination and cross-examination of the witnesses. Sowore will have the opportunity not only for testing the recollection and sifting the conscience of the witnesses, but compel him to stand face-to-face with the judge in order that the judge may look at them, and judge by their demeanour on the witness stand and the manner in which they give their testimonies whether they are worthy of believing. 

4. The face-to-face encounter in the confrontation clause is not only between Sowore the accused and Buhari the accuser. The encounter enables the judge “to obtain the elusive and incommunicable evidence of a witness deportment while testifying.”

5. Face-to-face encounter will give Sowore opportunity to cross-examine the adverse witnesses. More importantly, Sowore’s counsel may, for example, notice that the witnesses appear comfortable or uncomfortable, hesitant or confident, indifferent or nervous. Such observations may guide counsel in probing, cajoling, and prying information from the witnesses to the benefit of Sowore, the accused.

6. Face-to-face confrontation also enhances the accuracy of fact finding because of its effect upon the witnesses. “It is always more difficult,” a high court had ruled elsewhere, “to tell a lie about a person to his face than behind his back. The right of confrontation contributes to the establishment of a system of criminal justice in which the perceptions as well as the reality of fairness prevails.” 

By filing for a motion at the eleventh hour to seek court’s approval to use face covered witnesses is a plan by Buhari’s regime to keep postponing the trial till 2023. It is tantamount to denial of justice because as they say, “justice delayed is justice denied.” It also underscores the fact that the government is never and will never be ready for a case of treason it can never prove. Knowing full well that the case against Sowore had collapsed like a house of cards, it means Sowore has no case to answer. Frivolous endless adjournment is the most foolish face saving amusement device by the government. This bull crap must be stopped. 

Should the prosecutor ask for any adjournment come Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the presiding judge, the Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, should dismiss the case for want of evidence and lack of merit without wasting time and tax payers’ resources.

Let’s go to trial!



Original Author

Bayo Oluwasanmi

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Source: Sahara Reporters

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