Barring any last-minute changes, the police will this week file criminal charges against Senator Elisha Abbo for allegedly assaulting a nursing woman at an adult toy shop in Abuja.
The Senate on Wednesday condemned the Senator for allegedly assaulting the woman in the Wuse area of Abuja on May 11. The red chamber subsequently set up a bi-partisan ad hoc committee headed by a former governor of Ebonyi State, Sam Egwu, to probe the action of the Peoples Democratic Party Senator.
The embattled senator, who represents Adamawa North in the Senate, allegedly slapped the woman following a brief argument. The viral video footage had generated outrage among Nigerians with activists marching to the Force Headquarters and the National Assembly to demand Abbo’s prosecution for assault. It was learnt that police detectives had been able to establish a prima facie case against the lawmaker.
Apart from the evidence deduced from the video, which showed Abbo repeatedly slapping his victim for intervening in an argument between him and the shop owner, the admission by the Senator in a statement last week was also said to have added to the weight of evidence against him.
The Federal Capital Territory Police Command interrogated Abbo on Thursday and subsequently detained him for 24 hours. He was released on bail on Friday and directed to return for further questioning this week. It was learnt on Saturday that the force planned to arraign Abbo on Friday, but shelved the move due to the inability of the investigators to obtain the original footage of the assault from the Closed Circuit Television camera which captured the incident.
It was learnt that the investigators wanted to subject the original video to a forensic analysis in order to ascertain that it had not been manipulated. A source, who is familiar with the investigation, told one of our correspondents that the detectives could not secure the original footage because the shop owner was out of town. The senior police officer stated that they would arraign Abbo to show to the world that it did not condone gender violence in any form regardless of the social status of the perpetrator.
The officer stated, “Our preliminary investigation has indicted the senator and the plan was to arraign him on Friday for assault but the detectives were not able to obtain the original video from the CCTV which we needed to vet to ensure that it had not been manipulated. So, the arraignment would hold this week.”
Another source explained that the police did not want to rush the arraignment to avoid mistakes or legal loopholes that could be exploited by Abbo’s lawyer. He stated that the force decided to delay the arraignment while ensuring a diligent investigation to avoid costly mistakes during the prosecution of the lawmaker. The source also noted that the police needed to access the original video to confirm whether the lawmaker damaged any property in the shop which could increase the counts against him.
He added, “We don’t want to sacrifice diligent investigation on the altar of speed. Rather, we want to strike a balance between the need to charge him to court timeously and the need to do the right thing. When you are investigating a case involving a high calibre person, you have to be sure you have a watertight case, because the accused would hire the best lawyers who could exploit every technicality and loophole to get their client off the hook.”
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