SUMAL FOOD WORKERS’ STRUGGLE: Abbey Trotsky trial continues to be delayed
Abbey Trotsky Re-arraigned as a new Magistrate takes over Criminal Trial
The matter adjourned till the 8th of December, 2022
Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, popularly known as Abbey Trotsky, was re-arraigned again yesterday, Thursday, 20th October 2022, in Court 6 Magistrate Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State, on the same eight (8) counts trumped-up criminal charges instituted against him by the police authority at the instance of SUMAL FOOD LIMITED, Ibadan.
The fresh re-arraignment was the seventh of its kind and occasioned by the change in the presiding magistrate from Mrs. T.A Oyekanmi to Mrs. S.I Babalola. The Honorable Magistrate S.I Babalola (Mrs.) is the fourth Magistrate that has presided over this matter which is in connection with the solidarity Comrade Abbey Trotsky and other members of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights, CDWR, gave to the struggle against poor pay and slavery working condition embarked upon between 2nd and 4th of October, 2018 by hundreds of casual workers in SUMAL FOOD LIMITED, in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The police prosecutor, Inspector Oluwafemi Olanibi, having announced his appearance alongside the lawyer watching brief for SUMAL FOOD LIMITED, informed the court of how the protracted nature of the matter was a creation of the stalemate that developed around the ruling delivered on the 5th of December, 2019 by Honorable Magistrate M.A Amole-Ajimoti (Mrs.) of Court 9 who asserted that Mr. Adeyinka Olumide Fusika, a counsel defending Abbey Trotsky, has no right to appear before his court because he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Currently, the ruling is being challenged at the Court of Appeal following an unfavorable judgment on the appeal against it at the state high court, Ibadan.
The magistrate in her obvious concern for the protracted nature of this matter which has been on since 2019, asked Comrade Abbey Trotsky who has been appearing in person, since the disqualification of his defense counsel, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN why he has not engaged the services of a junior lawyer in the chamber of the learned silk.
This obviously threw the question of whether or not a SAN can appear at magistrate court into an open debate within the court session. First was Abbey Trotsky, who informed the court that his insistence on Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika as a counsel of his choice is a constitutional right and he cannot be cowed to do otherwise, especially considering the grievous nature of the false charges against him and the threat of prolonged imprisonment if found guilty. This point was obviously supported by the overwhelming opinion expressed by many lawyers who witnessed the proceeding except the lawyer watching brief for SUMAL FOOD LIMITED who informed the court that a junior lawyer has been the one defending Abbey Trotsky in other related civil matter at the National Industrial Court, NIC.
At the end, the magistrate was of the opinion that it will be in the interest of the court if the contention over whether or not a lawyer who is a senior advocate can appear at the magistrate court gets to the Supreme Court for its final determination. Thereafter, the plea of the defendant was taken during which all of the old eight trumped up criminal charges were read to Comrade Abbey Trotsky and he pleaded not guilty to all. Meanwhile, the police prosecutor had earlier applied that Abbey Trotsky should be allowed to continue to enjoy his previous bail. This was granted by the court and the matter was subsequently adjourned till December, 8th, 2022 for mention.
Appreciation to Citipoint Chambers, Ola Adeosun Victoria Chambers, journalists who came to cover the court proceeding; members of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights, CDWR and members of other civil society organizations who joined us in solidarity.
Comrade Musa Ibrahim
For the CDWR, Oyo State Chapter