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Judiciary

Court adjourns to April 9, hearing in Jang’s N6.3bn fraud case

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Court adjourns to April 9, hearing in Jang’s N6.3bn fraud case

Adjournment

The State High Court in Jos, on Thursday adjourned to April 9, hearing in ex-Gov. Jonah Jang’s alleged N6.3 billion fraud case to enable prosecuting counsel conclude submissions.

Jang and Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Plateau Government House, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over fraud alleged committed between Sept. 2010 and Oct. 2014.

The duo is facing a 12-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering allegedly committed when Jang was governor of Plateau.

The EFCC had alleged that the defendants conspired to defraud the state of N6.3bn, via illegal acts.

The anti-graft agency said the acts were contrary to, and punishable under sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition Act) 2011, as amended.

When the case came up for continuation of hearing before Justice Daniel Longji of High Court IV, Jos, on Thursday, two prosecution witnesses were taken into evidence.

However, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the defense Counsel to Jang, applied for an adjournment to enable him attend to some pressing needs.

“My Lord I am aware we have earlier fixed March 5, March 6 and March 7, for this case, but I am afraid I cannot continue up to tomorrow due to a pressing issue before me.

“I will like to apply for an adjournment if it pleases My Lord since l have conferred with my learned silk, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, for understanding, ” Ozekhome pleaded.

Longji then granted the adjournment of the case, as sought, to April 9 and April 10, for continuation of hearing.

Foreign

S. African court declares lockdown regulations “unconstitutional”

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A South African court ruled on Tuesday that the COVID-19 lockdown regulations in the country are “unconstitutional” and “invalid.”

“Some of the regulations promulgated by the government simply did not meet the rationality test in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the North Gauteng High Court said in its ruling.

The court gave the government 14 days to amend and republish the regulations to avoid infringing on people’s rights.

The court decision followed an application by the Liberty Fighters Network, which asked the court to declare the national state of disaster, established under the Disaster Management Act, “unconstitutional and unlawful.”

South Africa imposed the lockdown on March 27 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was lowered from level five to level four on May 1, and again eased to level three on June 1.

Critics said some of the lockdown regulations such as the ban on alcohol and tobacco products, the shutdown of business and strict restrictions on people’s movement “violate the rights of almost every citizen in the country.”

In response to the ruling, the government said in a statement it will study the judgement.

“Cabinet will make a further statement once it has fully studied the judgement,” the statement said.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Port Harcourt DisCo decries N2.5bn revenue loss over meter bypass

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The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) says it is losing about N2.5 billion monthly due to meter bypass and vandals in four states.

The states are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers.

PHED Managing Director, Dr Henry Ajagbawa, disclosed this to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, while making clarifications on the alleged sack of 120 workers in the company.

According to Ajagbawa, the revenue loss affects the company’s efforts to expand its facilities in the four states it operates.

“We urge customers to be fair to us and stop tampering with our meters as it is called energy theft.

PHED is losing about N2.5 billion out of N4.5 billion monthly projection to meter bypass and activities of vandals. These challenges are affecting our operations.

“The only way we can survive and improve on our services is when customers pay their bills and stop bypassing their meter,” he said.

The managing director said the company would soon commence mass disconnection and arrest of residents to recover the lost revenue.

He urged the National Assembly to propose and pass a bill that would criminalise and punish offenders caught in the act.

Ajagbawa said that in spite of massive metering of homes in the four states, the company’s revenue portfolio had yet to improve.

“So, we need legislation to criminalise energy theft and vandalism of electricity facilities. People should learn to pay for energy consumed.

“If the government criminalises this practice and makes the consequences severe, definitely, we will have it better in the country.

“To this end, we have disciplined our staff, who were involved in these corrupt acts. We are taking drastic steps to stop corruption among the staff and customers,” he added.

Ajagbawa said the company needed about N40 billion to meter customers in the four states it covered.

He, however, insisted that PHED did not retrench 120 workers, an allegation made by the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC).

He further said that PHED management had at no time signed any sack letter, saying the company paid staff salaries up to May.

“Also, I want to use this medium to say that I am in good working relationship with the Rivers Government in spite of my arrest (by state government task force during the COVID-19 lockdown).

PHED commends the Rivers Government for its construction of some electricity distribution centres aimed at boosting electricity supply in the state,” Ajagbawa said.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Judiciary

Alleged falsehood: Court strikes out suit, discharges Dino Melaye

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Justice   Olasumbo Goodluck of an FCT High Court, Maitama on Tuesday discharged Sen. Dino Melaye who was accused of providing false information to the police.

The  Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) charged Melaye with two counts of giving false information to the police.

Delivering a ruling in a no-case -submission filed Melaye, Justice  Goodluck held that on count one, there is no evidence that the defendant gave false information to any person in public service.

She also described the evidence given by PW1 (Onoja) as “vague”.

The judge said:” neither of the two witnesses elicited evidence on the status of Mohammed Abubaker Audu.”

“Hence, there is lack of evidence on the nature of the status of employment or if at all he is employed not to talk of him being engaged in public service,” she said.

“I am also inclined to allude to the submissions of the defence counsel that there is no statement before the court allegedly made by the defendant to one who is in the public service.

“This being the case, the first ingredients of the offence upon which count one is predicated has not been proved to the court.

“Similarly, the second element of the count has not been proven by the prosecution”.

Goodluck held that the prosecution failed to present the audio recording of the conversation between the former Maleye and Audu, nor was an audio expert engaged to the ascertain the identities of the persons in phone conversation.

She further held that no staff of Sahara reporters, the online medium which allegedly released the audio conversation, was called to testify.

The judge also held that no investigative police officer was called to prove that indeed a report was lodged against the defendant.

“It is no longer uncertain that a court does not rely on speculations and suspicions from any material evidence.

“No audio recording of the telephone conversation between the defendant and Mohammed Abubakar was presented at trial.

“All we are left with is the hearsay evidence of the existence of the statement as recounted by the witnesses.

“Besides, the prosecution failed to call in evidence, the Sahara reporter to establish through his staff that the Sahara Reporters recorded a telephone conversation involving the defendant and another.

“In effect, there is no credible and cogent evidence of any Sahara Report’s recording before this court.

“In the light of the fore going consequences, I am of the view and will so hold that the defendant ought to be discharged as there is no reason to convict him in the circumstances.

“He is accordingly discharged on account of the fact that the no-case-submission succeeds” Goodluck held

NAN reports that Melaye’s Counsel Mr Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN, filed a no-case-submission when the prosecution closed their case.

Melaye was alleged to have in April, 2017, deliberately given false information to police to incriminate David Onoja, then Chief of Staff to Kogi State governor, as masterminding an assassination attempt on him.

He was also alleged to have given false statement of facts in a phone conversation with Mr Mohammed Abubakar, son of former governor of the state, Abubakar Audu, with the intention of harming the reputation of Onoja.

He, however, denied committing the offence punishable under Sections 140 and 393 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 89, Laws of Northern Nigeria, 1963. (NAN)


Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

 

 


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Judiciary

Court orders release of Orji Kalu from prison

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A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, granted a motion by a former Governor of Abia,  Orji Uzor Kalu, seeking his release from the Kuje Prison custody.

Justice Mohammed Liman before who the applicant’s motion was pending, granted the prayer of applicant, and ordered the release of Kalu, from prison.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Kalu was sentenced to 12 years for N7.2billion fraud belonging to Abia.

The verdict was handed down by Justice Mohammed Idris on Dec. 5, 2019, while his co- defendant, Jonnes Udeogo had bagged a 10 years jail term.

NAN reports that Justice Idris who delivered the verdict , had been ceased of the case from the time of Kalu’s arraignment, but he was subsequently, elevated to the court of appeal.

However, following a fiat authorising him to continue with the case, Idris conducted and concluded the trial of Kalu and his co-accused.

He, had consequently, delivered his verdict on Dec. 5, 2019 handing down a jail term of 12 years and 10 years, on Kalu and Udeogo respectively.

Following an appeal by Udeogo, the Supreme Court had on May 8, held that the fiat issued to Justice Idris to conclude the trial of the defendants after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal was “a nullity”.

The apex Court had set aside Idris’ verdict “as it relates to the appellant (Udeogu)”, and had ordered Udeogu’s freedom and the re-trial of his case

In reaction to the decision of the apex court, Kalu consequently, hired a 12 man team of lawyers, including six Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, to prosecute his freedom bid.

In his motion, Kalu contended that no legal basis existed for his continued incarceration following the Supreme Court’s judgment which declared his trial a nullity and freed Udeogu

He had filed the motion on May 12 asking the court to nullify his conviction, while the court reserved the case for June 2 (today)

In his ruling, on Tuesday, Justice Liman held that the motion was meritorious and that he was bound by the judgment  of the Supreme Court.

He, consequently, ordered the immediate release of Kalu from the Kuje Correctional Centre where he is currently being detained.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Osun court remands man over alleged threat to life

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An Ile-Ife Magistrates’ Court in Osun on Tuesday remanded one Joseph Patrick, 30, in police custody over alleged threat to life.

The Prosecutor, Insp Sunday Osanyintuyi, told the court that the defendant committed the offence on May 25 at about 12:45 pm on Aladanla Street, Ile-Ife.

Osanyintuyi alleged that the defendant and others now at large threatened to kill one Joseph Orji with a cutlass.

According to him, the offences contravened Sections 86 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Osun, 2002.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of conspiracy and threat to life.

The Defence Counsel, Mrs Fausat Lawal, applied for bail for  his client in the most liberal terms, pledging to provide reliable sureties.

Magistrate Joseph Owolawi, however, declined to grant bail and ordered the defendant’s remand at ‘A’ Division Police Station in Moore, Ile-Ife.

Owolawi adjourned the case till Thursday for ruling on bail.

(
Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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Judiciary

Court remands 3 over alleged robbery, arson in Osun

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An Ifetedo Magistrates’ Court in Osun on Tuesday remanded three men for alleged armed robbery and arson.

The defendants are Omisope Bukola, 25; Sogo Elusoji, 45 and Owolabi Rafiu, 55.

The Prosecutor, ASP Joseph Adebayo, told the court that the defendants committed the offence on March 3 at about 5:00am at Odemuyiwa Village in Ife South Local Government Area of Osun.

Adebayo alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves to commit armed robbery and arson.

He alleged that the defendants, while armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, robbed one Chief Fatai Adeyeni, the Baale Aye Arode Village, of 50 gallons of palm oil.

The prosecutor told the court that the defendants also stole the victim’s bags of cocoa beans and palm kernel seeds as well as goats.

He further alleged that the defendants willfully and unlawfully set the victim’s house on fire, burning his properties which included government-owned hospital equipment kept in his custody.

Adebayo told the court  that the total value of the stolen properties and the burnt hospital equipment were valued at N10 million.

He said that the offences contravened Sections 1(1), 2(a) and 6(b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act Cap R11 Vol 14, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and 443 and 516, Laws of Osun, 2002.

The plea of the defendants were not taken.

The Magistrate, Mr Joseph Owolawi, ordered the remand of the defendants in ‘ A’ Division Police Station, Moore, Ile-Ife, saying his court lacked  jurisdiction to hear the case.

He adjourned the case till June 24 for mention.

(
Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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Judiciary

Ogun inaugurates small claims court

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The Ogun government on Monday inaugurated a Small Claims Court as part of efforts to bring justice closer to the people and ensure quick dispensation of justice.

The Chief Judge of Ogun, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, at the inauguration held at the State High Court, Isabo, said that the court was established to provide easy access to informal, inexpensive and speedy resolution of simple matters.

According to Dipeolu, the court deals with simple matters such as debt recovery disputes, demands and damages that do not exceed N500,000.

She said that the establishment of such a court was  aimed at bringing justice closer to people at the grassroots level.

”The small claims court is targeted at some people who might find it difficult to hire the service of lawyers.

” The method of operation at the court is very simple. Litigants do not need lawyers to file claims or defend same and fees are also quite cheap and affordable,” she said

The chief judge added that the small claims court were time bound, noting that the entire proceeding from inception till judgment was not expected to last more than 60 days.

She also said the operation at the small claims court would commence in six carefully chosen Magisterial Districts which were in Abeokuta, Ota, Ifo, Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu and Ilaro.

The success of the court, she said, would determine opening in other magisterial districts.

Earlier, the chief judge had sworn in two magistrates–Mrs Alaba Sakirat Yetunde and Siyanbola- Alli Aminate Abosede.

She urged the magistrates to uphold the ethics of the profession and dispense justice without fear or  favour.

(
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

 

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Defence/Security

COVID-19 lockdown: Lagos court sentences 730 violators to community service

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No fewer than 730 persons were sentenced to community service by Lagos State Magistrates’ Court for COVID-19 lockdown offences, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

The Director of Community Service, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Ms Shakirat Karimu-Ikotun disclosed this to NAN in her office on Monday.

She spoke after receiving some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the British Council Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

Items presented by RoLAC include hand gloves, hand sanitisers, reusable face masks, hoes, brooms, cutlasses, rakes, wheelbarrows, printer inks and A4 papers, while the project was funded by the European Union.

Karimu-Ikotun said that many people were arrested for COVID-19 lockdown offences, saying that only few magistrates were available to handle their cases.

She said that all the offenders who pleaded guilty were given a non-custodian sentencing and were allowed to come from their various homes to carry out their community service for one or two weeks, depending on their offences.

“At least, we have supervised 730 offenders between April and May 15 over COVID-19 offences. We have many offenders but few courts were working to handle their cases.

“The community services carried out by offenders included public toilet washing, street sweeping, cutting of grass, clearing drainages, cleaning old peoples’ home,” she said.

Karimu-Ikotun appreciated RoLAC for the items donated to the unit, saying that the equipment would go a long way in protecting those on community service while carrying out the duties.

She appealed to the magistrates to always sentence minor offenders to community service, saying that this would reduce the number of inmates in various correctional centres, especially, those awaiting trials.

The Programme Officer of RoLAC in Lagos, Mrs Ajibola Ajimakinwa, while presenting the items said that the aim of the intervention was to ensure a sustained service delivery during COVID-19 breakout.

Ajimakinwa said the donation would also strengthen the capacity of the Community Sentencing Unit to supervise community offenders.

“The current prevalence of COVID-19 has led to increase in the number of offenders sentenced to do community service. The COVID-19 outbreak and consequential lockdown restriction have made it necessary to support the unit.

“Courts in Lagos are now routinely resorting to non-custodian measures, which increases the demand for equipment for doing community service,” Ajimakinwa said.

Some PPE items were also presented by RoLAC to the Lagos State Police Command Family Support and Gender Units.

The programme officer said they were supporting the units due to their involvement in handling sexual and domestic violence, which she claimed had increased since the pandemic lockdown started.

“The current prevalence of COVID-19 has led to increase in cases of sexual and domestic violence and service providers such as Gender and SFUs should be supported to ensure they carry out their services without any hindrance,” she said.

CSP Omomobi Olutoyin, the Head of Gender Unit at the Lagos State Police Command, who received the items on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, appreciated RoLAC for the donation.

She said that the organisation had donated other items to the command in time past, saying that the items donated would go a long way in protecting the police personnel in the course of their duties.


Edited By: Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Judiciary

Court sentences man to death for killing own father

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An  Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday sentenced a technician, Rasak Abiona, to death for beating his 62-year-old father to death with an iron rod during a dispute over property in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo delivered the judgment in a virtual hearing.

Justice Taiwo held that though the prosecution had presented circumstantial evidence against the middle-aged defendant during the trial, the state proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

She noted that the technician’s confessional statements to the police implicated him and that during the trial, the defendant did not present witnesses in court to back his claim that his father died after a fall.

Justice Taiwo sentenced Rasak, after finding him guilty of a charge of murder contrary to Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.

“This is a very unfortunate and sad case where a son kills his father.

“There is no doubt that by hitting the deceased with an iron rod on the head, the defendant intended to cause grievous bodily harm.

“The defendant could have easily overpowered his father, a 62-year-old man without hitting him on the head with an iron rod.

“This case is a clear indication of what anger and impatience can do in a man’s life.

“The court does not have a discretion to give a lesser punishment in a case of murder in view of Section 223 of the Criminal Law 2011.

“I hereby sentence the defendant to death for killing his father, Sunday Abiona. This is the sentence of the court,” the judge said.

Earlier, before the sentence was delivered, the defence counsel, Mr Obinna Mbagho in his plea for mercy, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, noting that the Rasak was a first-time offender who had shown remorse.

“He has been in prison since 2013 and ever since his incarceration, his children have been scattered,” Mbagho said.

Opposing the plea for mercy, the prosecutor for the state, Mr Olakunle Ligali, requested for the maximum penalty for the crime.

Under the Criminal Law of Lagos, when the crime has the ultimate penalty of death, the court has no discretion to mitigate the sentence.

“In fact, the court does not have a discretion to hear the plea for mercy,” Ligali said.

NAN reports that according to the prosecution, Rasak killed his father , Sunday, during a scuffle on Feb. 28, 2012 at the deceased’s residence at No. 22, Taiwo St., Ejigbo, Lagos.

During the trial, five witnesses testified for the prosecution including the brother of the deceased, Mr Lanre Abiona and two half-sisters of the defendant, Ms Kafilat Abiona and Ms Shakirat Abiona.

Other prosecution witnesses were a pathologist, Dr Moses Akpeniyi and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) ASP Festus Omoru.

The defendant did not call any witness to testify for him as testified solely in his defence.

Lanre in his evidence had told the court that the defendant had a long history of beating his father and that on one occasion, Rasak had beaten his father to the extent his teeth had fallen out.

Lanre noted that he had told his late brother on numerous occasions to disown his son, but he had refused.

Shakirat during the trial told the court that the physical altercation between her brother and father started because her brother had come to their father’s home wanting to view a copy of his will, but their father refused to oblige his request leading to a fight between the men.

The pathologist in his testimony, had told the court that the deceased had died from a brain hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma caused by a heavy object hitting the skull.

Rasak in his defence, however, denied killing his father.

He claimed that his father had while drunk, fallen from the balcony of his home and had succumbed to the injuries sustained during the fall when he was taken to the hospital.


Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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