The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal Owerri which upheld N1 billion contract debt owed E.F. Network Nigeria Limited by the Imo State Government.
Delivering judgment, Justice Amina Augie, held that the appeal filed by the Imo state government and Gov. Rochas Okorocha challenging the judgment of the lower court was not meritorious.
Augie, who read the judgment prepared by Justice Kayode Arioola therefore, ordered the Imo State Governor all other three appellants to immediately pay the firm and its promoter, Mr Gideon Egbuchulam the N1billion.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the judgment sum was an outstanding amount left unpaid in a contract awarded to the company in 2008 under the administration of the state’s former governor, Ikedi Ohakim.
Augie went ahead to dismiss the appeal and awarded N500, 000 cost against the appellants.
NNN reports that other appellants listed in the suit were Attorney-General of Imo State, Environmental Transformation Committee (Imo Entraco) and The Ministry of Environment, Imo State.
Okorocha and others had approached the apex court to challenge the July 4, 2016 judgment of the court of appeal, Owerri.
The appellate court had upheld the Feb. 11, 2014 judgment delivered by Justice Ijeoma Agugua of the Imo State High Court which gave the initial judgment against the state government.
The judgment creditors (E.F Network Nig. Ltd and Egbuchulam) had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellants failed to pay the sum after an execution of a contract for the state government.
The company and its promoter were contracted by Ohakim’s administration which Okorocha succeeded to implement the state’s Clean and Green Initiative.
The firm was awarded a contract to supply 10 million refuse bags and 40,000 plastic rolling containers at N42 per bag and N20 per plastic container.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Alleged falsehood: Court strikes out suit, discharges Dino Melaye
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.
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
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)
Court orders release of Orji Kalu from prison
Justice Mohammed Liman before who the applicant’s motion was pending, granted the prayer of applicant, and ordered the release of Kalu, from prison.
However, following a fiat authorising him to continue with the case, Idris conducted and concluded the trial of Kalu and his co-accused.
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.
He, consequently, ordered the immediate release of Kalu from the Kuje Correctional Centre where he is currently being detained.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Osun court remands man over alleged threat to life
An Ile-Ife Magistrates’ Court in Osun on Tuesday remanded one Joseph Patrick, 30, in police custody over alleged threat to life.
Osanyintuyi alleged that the defendant and others now at large threatened to kill one Joseph Orji with a cutlass.
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.
Owolawi adjourned the case till Thursday for ruling on bail.
Court remands 3 over alleged robbery, arson in Osun
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.
He adjourned the case till June 24 for mention.
Ogun inaugurates small claims court
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.
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.
COVID-19 lockdown: Lagos court sentences 730 violators to community service
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.
“The community services carried out by offenders included public toilet washing, street sweeping, cutting of grass, clearing drainages, cleaning old peoples’ home,” she said.
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.
Court sentences man to death for killing own father
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.
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.
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.
Court bars Edo Govt, Gov. Obaseki from prosecuting Oshiomhole
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Edo Government and Gov Godwin Obaseki from arresting and prosecuting the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
NAN reports that a panel of inquiry set up by the state government headed by Justice J.U Oyomire, had in a white paper indicted Oshiomhole and recommended that criminal proceedings be commenced against him.
Oshiomhole, in an Ex parte motion, through his counsel, Mr Ehiogie West- Idahosa, asked the court to stop his arrest and prosecution on account of the report.
The Edo government, however through its counsel Mr Alex Ejeiseme, SAN, went to the court with a preliminary objection to stop the ex parte order from being heard.
Ejeiseme argued that since he was challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter, the court must determine the issue of jurisdiction before entertaining any other application.
He agreed that he had not been served the applicant’s processes, but that he responded based on an online version he had printed.
Following listening to arguments by parties, Justice Ahmed Mohammed ordered respondents in the matter not to take any decision on the matter pending the determination of the issue of jurisdiction.
”An interim order is hereby made restraining the prosecution of the applicant pursuant to the report submitted to the 1st to 3rd respondents or any white paper, pending the determination of the issue of jurisdiction raised in the 1st to 4th respondents’ notice of preliminary objection, the judge said.
The court also directed Oshiomhole’s counsel to serve all the respondents his processes within 48 hours.
Also named as respondents in the suit are the Attorney- General and Commissioner of Justice for Edo, Justice J.U Oyomire, Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services.
Justice Mohammed later adjourned the matter until June 17.
Man in court for alleged criminal trespass, theft
A Wuse Zone II Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Abuja, on Monday, arraigned a 23-year-old man, Ibrahim Abdul, for alleged criminal trespass and stealing of mobile phone worth N40,000.
Abdul, of Gudu District, Apo, Abuja, is standing trial on a four-count charge of criminal trespass, theft, mischief and causing hurt.
The Prosecutor, Stanley Nwafoaku, told the court that on May 18, one Inspector Michael Benjamin, attached to Apo divisional police headquarters, reported the matter at Apo police station.
Nwafoaku alleged that on the said date, at about 7.00 pm, while the complainant was on a stop-and-search duty at Gudu junction, the defendant criminally trespassed where the complainant parked his car.
He alleged that the defendant forcefully opened the door of the Nissan Almera car and stole the complainant’s mobile phone, valued at N40,000.
The prosecutor said that the complainant and his colleagues on duty immediately noticed the crime and swiftly ran to arrest the defendant.
He further alleged that the defendant, who struggled to escape and resist arrest, smashed the phone on the ground and mischievously bit the complainant’s hand, causing him severe injury.
According to the prosecutor, the offence contravenes Sections 348, 288, 327 and 246 of the Penal Code.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him.
The Chief Magistrate, Idayat Akanni, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N50,000 and one surety in like sum.
Akanni said that the surety must have a means of livelihood, a valid identity card, fixed address and live within the jurisdiction of the court.
She, thereafter, adjourned the matter till June 24, for hearing.
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