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Judiciary

Warrant of arrest without jurisdiction an abuse – Director

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Mrs Josephine Obanor, the Director of Magistrate, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), says  the law that a magistrate can grant warrant of arrest without having jurisdictions has been grossly abused.

Obanor said this at the closing ceremony of a two day retreat organised for the three chapters of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Abuja by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) on Wednesday.

RoLAC is a programme funded by European Union (EU) and managed by the British Council.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the three chapters are Bwari, Gwagwalada and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

Obanor said that warrant of arrest had always been abused in the past, adding that move were on to create a synergy between the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and magistrates to ensure things were properly done.

According to her, this will be in line with the provision of Administration of Criminal Justice Acts (ACJA).

She said that Section 1 of ACJA promotes efficient management of justice dispensation, stressing that the main aim of criminal justice was to reform offenders and not to keep them valueless.

She called on lawyers to familiarise themselves with the provision of ACJA in terms of prosecution of suspects, adding that proper management of suspects at the police station was crucial to the provision of ACJA.

“ACJA opens a lot of doors in the justice system and being a lawyer or magistrates is a calling because whatever we do as ministers in the temple of justice, we should know that God is watching us.

She called on lawyers to ensure that they made the legal profession decent, adding that the FCT magistrates was making effort to enter into an agreement with a German Trade Zone, a development agency to support magistrate.

According to her, section 34 of ACJA has empowered the magistrate to visit police stations quarterly to inspect facilities at the stations and suspects in their custody.

The director of magistrate, noted that the police before now were not cooperating with the magistrate, but with the coming of ACJA , they had started cooperating.

Obanor added that magistrates now had the opportunity of telling the police to charge suspects to court instead of keeping them perpetually in their custody.

Mr Bayo Akinlade, the NBA Chairman, Ikorodu branch, Lagos state, condemned some of the courts environment with a rickety look.

“If you are in court and you are a lawyer, I am interested in the way you dress and if you do not dress by the code, I will tell the judge not to listen to you,’’ he said.

He said that the branch was coming up with a standard fee charge by lawyers that would be acceptable, adding that lawyers were getting some ridiculous amount that was not commensurate with their services.

He said that an average magistrate in Lagos State had 300 cases per day, adding that some of the magistrates had no security.

According to him, I have cases of magistrates entering public transport after seating on sensitive cases, the NBA and other stakeholders should ensure things are in order in the judiciary.

AG/GY

Edited by Grace Yussuf

Judiciary

Ortom closes case at tribunal, expresses confidence in judiciary to uphold justice

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Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue on Saturday, closed his case at the ongoing Benue Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Makurdi and expressed confident that the tribunal will deliver justice.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ortom, who on Saturday, stormed the courtroom with a litany of aides, party supporters and well-wishers, did not give evidence.

Speaking on behalf of his client, lead counsel to the governor, Mr Sabastine Hon (SAN), told the court that the governor had decided to close his case after having a cursory look at the evidence presented by the petitioner.

He said the onus of proving the case rested with the petitioner.

“After taking a critical look at the evidence provided by the petitioners, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that we will not be calling any further witnesses.”

However, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), who was next in line to open his case,  asked the court to grant him adjournment till Monday, Aug. 19 to do that.

He said he would call five witnesses and close his case.

Both parties in the suit agreed to the request and the tribunal chairman, Justice Henry Olusiyi, thereafter, adjourned the matter to Monday, Aug. 19.

Speaking to journalists after the sitting, Gov Ortom, expressed confidence in the court to uphold justice, claiming  that  the 2019 governorship election in Benue was free, fair and credible.

Also Speaking to journalists on why he decided to call only one witness, Ortom’s counsel,  Hon,  said the statement on oath of the petitioner himself and his star witness for the whole state, Joe Abaagu were not signed, and therefore, not substantial.

NAN recalls that both Ortom and the PDP had requested the court to disqualify Mr Abaagu from testifying on the basis that his statements on oath were not signed and proceeded to appeal against the decision of the tribunal to allow the witness to testify.

The tribunal had argued that it would rule on the eligibility of the witness to testify in its final judgment on the petition, a position that was upheld by the Appeal court.

 

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Judiciary

Ex-Gov Yari seeks court’s intervention over sealed Abuja property

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Former Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, on Friday, prayed the Federal High Court Abuja, to direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unseal his property located at Maitama, Abuja.

Yari, in an exparte motion brought by his Counsel, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, said the EFCC sealed the property contrary to the provision of the law.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the the Federal High Court Abuja had, earlier in the day, granted the ICPC leave to freeze some funds in Yari’s Zenith and Polaris Bank.

Magaji, who said that the application was to ensure each government agencies operates within the confines of the law, urged the judge ”to invoke his power to direct the EFCC to remove the red inscription pasted on the house.”

Citing a previous case in which a court delivered judgment in favour of an applicant, the lawyer said the commission cannot seal a property without a court order.

He said the application was supported by 11-paragraph affidavit and also supported by a written address dated Aug. 16.

”We adopt same in urging your Lordship to grant our application as prayed,” he said.

Magaji also told the court that he was with a motion exparte dated Aug. 15 and filed the same day, and brought in accordance with the provisions of the fundamental human rights.

“It is supported by a 17-paragraph affidavit. We also have affidavit of urgency with 9 paragraphs.

“We also have a further affidavit of five paragraphs and the same further affidavit has four exhibits marked Exhibits M (a) M (2), M (a) M (3), M (a) M(4) and M(a) M(5).

“It also has a written. address and we adopt same in urging your Lordship to grant our application as prayed,” he said.

The counsel argued that in as much as the applicant did not intend to prevent any government agency from performing its function, due process of the law must be followed in carrying out such duty.

”We urge your Lordship to direct parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the suit,” Magaji said.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who ordered that the case be heard during the vacation period, however adjourned the matter till Aug. 19 for ruling.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Police arraign Enugu monarch for alleged attempted kidnap

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 Police in Enugu State has arraigned the traditional ruler of Obeagu Ugwuaji, Awkunanaw Autonomous Community of the state, Igwe Christopher Nyia for alleged attempted kidnapping among other charges.

Nyia, 60, was arraigned before an Enugu South Magistrates Court presided over by Mr A. P. C. Amalu on four count charges allegedly committed with others at large in November, 2014.

Nyia was said to have willfully and unlawfully destroyed the house of one Hillary Okoye valued at N1.6 million and committed an offence punishable under sect. 451 of the same law.

He was said to have also unlawfully detained one Chinaza Agah against her will and, thereby, committed an offence punishable under Sect. 365 of the Criminal Code Act.

The last charge was that the monarch attempted to kidnap one Chinaza Agah and, thereby, committed an offence punishable under Sect. 86 (1) of the Criminal Code Act.

When the charges were read, the monarch pleaded not guilty and elected for summary trial.

The defense counsel, Prof. Osita Ogbu applied for the quashing of the charges against his client on grounds that the case had earlier been heard and dismissed by an Enugu Magistrates Court in 2016.

Ogbu said the case was dismissed due to lack of diligent prosecution.

The counsel, who tendered the certified copies of the proceedings, said it was surprising that the prosecution would bring up the matter again.

The defense counsel also said the laws on the basis of which his client was arraigned, did not apply to Enugu State.

He said the law was a creation of the National Assembly adding that the body had no constitutional powers to make laws for an offence applicable to Enugu state.

Ogbu said that criminalisation was a residual matter under the 1999 Constitution and amended except in treasonable felony.

He said his client was charged under the criminal code applicable in Abuja, adding that Enugu State had its own Criminal Procedure Law.

“The powers to enact general criminal laws are incidental which is not applicable here. These offences are under the legislative powers of the state assembly,” he said.

He said that under Sect. 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “a person could only be brought to the court for an offence prescribed by a valid law.

“We urge the court to quash the charges and discharge the accused person as he is not charged under any valid law,” he said.

Ogbu however, applied for the bail of his client should the court find no valid reason to quash the charges.

He said that the monarch was conscientiously attending court proceedings even when the prosecution was not attending prior to the initial dismissal of the case in 2016.

However, the prosecution counsel, Mr D. T. Abi opposed the bail application on the grounds that the allegations were heinous.

Abi however, told the court that the case was not dismissed on its merits but on technical grounds.

He said that under the circumstance, the police have the powers to re-arrest and bring the accused back to the court.

He said the charges were applicable to the state as the NASS had the powers to make laws for good governance of all parts of the country.

Abi prayed the court to discountenance the submissions of the defense counsel and deny bail.

However, Amalu granted the accused bail for N1 million and one surety in like sum.

The matter was adjourned until Sept. 2 for hearing.

The Nigeria News Agency recalls that members of Obeagu Ugwuaji Awkunanaw Autonomous Community had earlier trooped out en mass in solidarity with their monarch.

 

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Judiciary

Court grants ICPC’s request to freeze bank accounts linked to ex-Gov Yari

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The Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, gave the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) a go-ahead to freeze the Polaris and Zenith Bank accounts linked to the immediate-past Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, pending the conclusion of its investigation.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the account numbers, with United State (US) dollars and Nigerian naira, are domiciled in Zenith and Polaris Banks.

Akponimisingha, who is a Senior Legal Officer with the commission, said the motion exparte was dated Aug. 5 and filed on Aug. 6.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Mr Yari, Kayatawa Nigeria Limited and B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited are 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

The lawyer told Justice Taiwo Taiwo that the commission sought the order of the court based on the law that gives the court the jurisdiction to hear the case.

He said the motion was brought in accordance with “Section 17 (1), (2), (3) and (4) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006; Section 48 (1), (2) and (3) (a) and (b) of the Corruption Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, and Section 6 (6) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

The counsel stated that the Zenith Bank account numbers include: 1001381684 with N12.9m; 1010757436 with. 11.1m; 5360050304 with $301, 319.99; 1012556798 with N217, 388.04; 5364669609 with $311, 872.15 and the Polaris account number: 2110000928 with $56, 056.75.

He said the motion prayed for 10 orders “and nine orders are the main while the tenth order is omnibus.”

According to him, the applicant is praying the court for an order of interim forfeiture of all the funds being proceeds of some unlawful activity allegedly stashed in the Zenith and Polaris Banks.

He explained that the Zenith Bank account numbers: 1001381684 was in the name of Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari; 1010757436 and 5360050304 were in the name of Kayatawa Nigeria Limited.

He said while the Polaris Bank account number: 2110000928 was in the name of Mr Yari, the Zenith Bank account numbers: 1012556798 and 5364669609 were in the name of B.T. Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

Akponimisingha, who said that the respondents did not acquire the alleged funds legitimately, said the commission received an intelligent report that the respondents involved in some unlawful activity against the interest of the Zamfara State government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He said that while the 1st respondent was the immediate-past Governor of Zamfara State, the 2nd and 3rd respondents are limited liability companies registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with the 1st respondent (Yari) as director and shareholder respectively.

“We pray for an order restraining any person or persons, whether human, juristic or artificial, not to part with, deal with, deal in or otherwise dispose of such property or any part thereof the said accounts pending the determination of the matter,” he said.

He also urged the judge to direct Zenith and Polaris Banks to fix the alleged proceeds of crime in the aforesaid accounts in interest yielding accounts pending the respondents show cause why the funds should not be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

In his ruling, Justice Taiwo, who granted nine of the prayers sought by the ICPC, asked the commission to put the respondents on notice and the publication be made in The Punch Newspaper within seven days, excluding today (Aug. 16).

He also said that the respondents should within 14 days file an affidavit on why the money should not be forfeited.

The judge thereafter adjourned the matter till Sept. 11.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Bricklayer bags 10 months jail term for breach of trust

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A Magistrates’ Court in Minna on Friday sentenced a 45-year-old bricklayer, Ahmadu Garba, to 10 months imprisonment for breach of trust.

Magistrate Christiana Barau sentenced Garba to three months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to a two count-charge of breach of trust and criminal misappropriation,

Barau, however, gave the convict an option to pay a fine of N5000 for each offences or serve out the three months.

The magistrate also ordered the convict o pay N100, 000 to the complainants as compensation or seven months in prison in the event of a default.

Earlier, the prosecutor, Insp. Ahmed Ali, told the court that one Mr Dele Martins and Mr Simon Iko reported the case at the Tudun Wada Police Station in 2018.

Ali said the complainants contracted the defendant to renovate a house at Talba Estate, Minna, where he stole some building materials.

“He carted away 2 bundles of zinc, 7 flush doors, 4 door frames, 2 shower trays and wooden planks which were entrusted in his custody.

“The defendant sold the said items and converted the proceeds to his personal use,” the prosecutor said.

When the charge was read to the defendant, he pleaded guilty and begged the court for leniency.

The prosecutor thereafter prayed the court to try him summarily in line with Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

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