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COVID-19: Magistrate’s elevation stalls trial of Archbishop ‘Jehova Sharp-Sharp’

The trial of Archbishop Samson Mustapha Benjamin, popularly called Jehovah Sharp Sharp, of the Resurrection Praise Chapel, and two others suffered a setback due to the elevation of the presiding Chief Magistrate to a High Court judge.

They were arraigned for allegedly violating the lockdown and Stay-at-Home directive of President Muhammad Buhari amid the coronavirus pandemic before an Igbosere chief magistrate court, Lagos.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, the court’s Registrar informed counsel that the Chief Magistrate had been elevated and would no longer be able to preside over matters before her.

The development made parties to ask for another date when the matter would have to be reassigned to another magistrate.

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Consequently, on the agreement of the parties, the matter was adjourned till July 1, 2020.

The Lagos State Police Command had arraigned the cleric, alongside Jerry Abel and Johnson Benjamin, before an Igbosere chief magistrate court, Lagos, presided over by Chief Magistrate Olufolake Oshin (now judge-designate) on a three- count charge of conspiracy, breach of  the cessation of movement order made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

All the defendants pleaded not guilty as charged.

Subsequently, Oshin admitted Archbishop Samson to bail in the sum of N1 million, while she admitted the other two violators to bail in the sum of N500,000 each.

The defendants claimed that they were arrested by the police at the Chinese Embassy, Victoria Island, where they had gone to protest an alleged ill-treatment meted to Nigerians in China.

The archbishop appeared in full regalia in court yesterday.

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