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Police’s absence stall Nigerian Senator’s assault trial

The Nigerian Police’s absence on Thursday stalled the trial of a senator, Elisha Abbo, who was caught on camera assaulting a woman in Abuja.

The senator, who represents Adamawa North senatorial district, was arraigned at the Magistrate Court in Zuba, Abuja, after a video which showed him physically assaulting a lady, went viral.

Calls for Mr Abbo to be arrested and prosecuted intensified following this newspaper’s publication of the video.

Mr Abbo’s trial began on July 8 at the court where, he was granted bail with a bond of N5 million.

The senator is facing a charge on two counts of criminal assault.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, Philip Tumba of the Head of Legal department of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command, informed the court that he received a call from the prosecution, James Idachaba, that he would be having a brief with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Mr Tumba said, Mr Idachaba then asked for an adjournment of the case.

“The prosecuting/police lawyers are having a meeting with the IGP, I asked for 23 to 29 of January,” Mr Idachaba said in the letter he wrote to the court.

Responding, the senator’s lawyer, Isaac Adeniyi, said they have no objection to the application for adjournment but are not convenient with the dates requested by the prosecution.

Mr Adeniyi pleaded with the court to adjourn to February 5 or 6.

In a short ruling, the magistrate, Abdullahi Illelah, said since both the prosecutor and defendant (Mr Abbo) are absent, the matter has been adjourned to February 6, for the continuation of trial.

How the assault occurred

Mr Abbo, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had entered the shop around 6.00 pm on May 11, a Saturday. The senator walked in with three young women to purchase adult toys.

But shortly after they began shopping for the toys, one of the three girls brought in by Mr Abbo started throwing up. She vomited multiple times, prompting the shop owner to remark that the woman should have vomited outside and not inside her shop, especially since she was not a child.

Mr Abbo, who was said to be agitated by the sudden illness of one of his girls, was said to have accused the shop owner of poisoning the store’s air conditioner.

The shop owner argued that if the air-conditioner had been contaminated, others in the shop would have also taken ill further. This angered Mr Abbo, and the two began exchanging words over the matter.

In the first five minutes of the 10-minute video obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Abbo was seen sitting on a generator near the entrance of the shop. He could be heard within this time making calls and asking some people where they were and how close they were.

Just before the end of the first half of the video, an armed police officer walked in. Mr Abbo explained to the officer in Hausa that the woman insulted him and that he had called the assistant inspector-general (AIG) over the matter, who then assured him that he would call the police commissioner to call the Maitama Area Command. He also said he was disappointed in the shop-owner, whom he said he had been friends with for five years.

Mr Abbo, 41, said the police officer should take the shop-owner away. The shop-owner quickly called her father to inform him that Mr Abbo had called the police over the matter and that she was about to be taken away.

Mr Abbo asked the shop-owner to stop the call because he was talking to her, an order the woman refused to accede to. Another man could be seen coming from behind the police officer to snatch the shop owner’s phone from her.

Next, the shop owner’s friend who had been standing nearby tried to intervene by pleading with the second man to take things easy.

“Oga, please take it easy now,” she said.

Mr Abbo swiftly descended on the shop owner’s friend, saying she was “very stupid” and slapped her repeatedly, including directly on the eyes.

The senator then demanded that the two women should be taken to the police station. He repeatedly told the shop-owner that he was disappointed in her for calling him a drunk and that he would have harmed her more and closed down the shop but for their friendship.

The assaulted woman, who is nursing a child, was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for eye inflammation and other injuries she sustained during the attack.

Mr Abbo has since apologised publicly for the assault and pledged to ensure such does not happen again.

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