Federal High Court Bars Media, Others From Terrorism Trials

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File photo.

 

There will be no more media coverage for cases bordering on terrorism, the Federal High Court of Nigeria has said.

The court’s Chief Information Officer, Dr Catherine Christopher, announced this in a statement on Thursday while outlining FHC’s new practice directions.

Terrorism proceedings, according to the statement, will be conducted in secret except when the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, grants permission for media coverage.

It stated that terrorism proceedings will hold at any place to be designated by the chief judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue, for the time being, would be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

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“The Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, in exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling him, hereby made the following practice directions,” the statement read.

“These practice directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties, personnel of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, as well as members of the general public while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.

“Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of Section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the court.”

The court warned that anyone who contravenes an order or direction made under the practice directions would be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).

It said the perimeters of the court sitting over a terrorism trial would be secured for the period of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials, while distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial would be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.

The court stressed that nobody would be allowed within the secured perimeters, except the approved court officials, parties, and a number of pre-registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses, and any other person as may be directed by the judge or the most senior judge in the given circumstances.

Read the full Practice Directions Below:

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA

PRACTICE DIRECTIONS (ON TRIAL OF TERRORISM CASES) 2022

PREAMBLE

In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, John Terhemba Tsoho, The Honourable, The Chief Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria, hereby make the following Practice Directions:

ORDER 1

APPLICABILITY

  1. These Practice Directions shall, save to the extent as may be otherwise directed by The Honourable, The Chief Judge, apply to all trials of cases under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended) before the Federal High Court sitting anywhere in Nigeria.

ORDER 11

DIRECTIONS ON TRIAL PROCEEDINGS

1)     Perimeters of the Court

(a) The perimeters of the Court sitting over a terrorism trial shall be secured for the period of the trial for safety of litigants and Court officials.

(b) Distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial shall be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.

(c) No person shall be allowed within the secured perimeters save the approved Court officials; parties and a number of pre- registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses; and any other person as may be directed by the Judge or the most Senior Judge in the given circumstances

2)   Premises of the Court:

Only the Judges; other essential Court Staff and security agencies involved in the particular case and their vehicles shall have access to the Court premises.

ORDER 111

COURTROOM PROCEEDINGS

Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the Court.

The names, addresses, telephone numbers and identity of the victims of such offences or witnesses in the proceedings shall not be disclosed in any record or report of the proceedings and it shall be sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses with a combination of alphabets.

In any proceedings where the Court deems it necessary to ensure the safety and/or protect the identity of the victim or a witness, it may take any or all of the following protective measures:

a).  Hold its proceedings at any place to be designated by the Chief Judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue for the time being, shall be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal;

b).  Receive evidence by video link;

c).  Permit the witness to be screened or masked;

d).  Receive written depositions of expert witnesses;

e).  Direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the Court shall not be published in any manner;

f).  Exclude from the proceedings any person other than the parties and their legal representatives;

g).  Make order as to any electronic devices that would be allowed during proceedings;

h).  Make order on any other measure that the Court considers appropriate in the circumstances.

ORDER IV

COVERAGE OF PROCEEDINGS

Coverage of proceedings under these Practice Directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the Court.

A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Practice Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).

CITATION

These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.

COMMENCEMENT

These Practice Directions take immediate effect.

Dated this 5th day of April 2022

Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho (FICMC)

Chief Judge

Federal High Court of Nigeria

EXPLANATORY NOTE

These Practice Directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties; personnel of law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary; as well as members of the general public; while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.

Catherine Oby Christopher  PhD

Chief Information Officer

Federal High Court of Nigeria

Abuja.

Court Sacks Speaker Of Ebonyi Assembly, Other Defectors

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the Speaker of the Ebonyi House of Assembly and other lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to immediately stop holding themselves out as members of the assembly.

Justice Ekwo, in a separate judgement, had also sacked Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, for defecting from the PDP.

The Judge held that the votes that brought them to office belonged to the PDP and that the legislators cannot hold on to the votes having chosen to defect from the party that nominated them.

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Justice Ekwo also held that the votes cast for PDP in the 2019 election are not transferrable to the APC.

He restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognizing or according any recognition to them as elected members of the House of Assembly.

Justice Ekwo further ordered that all monies collected from the period of their defection to the judgment date must be recovered from them.

Over 128,000 Cases Pending At Federal High Court, Says CJ

A file photo of security operatives at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

 

No fewer than 128,000 cases are pending at various divisions of the Federal High Court across the country, the Chief Judge of the court, John Tsoho, has said.

He revealed this in his remarks at a special session to mark the commencement of the new legal year of the court on Thursday in Abuja.

Addressing a cross-section of justices at the ceremonial court, the chief judge revealed that thousands of criminal cases were filed between September 2020 and June 2021.

“There were 40,822 civil cases; 30,197 criminal cases; 35,563 motions and 20,258 fundamental rights enforcement applications pending at the end of that legal year,” he said.

“The total number of cases disposed of during that year was 6, 915 cases; with a total of 128, 234 pending at the end of the legal year.”

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Justice Tsoho stated that more cases were filed, and the dockets of the judges became enormously loaded following the improvement in the control of the COID-19 pandemic.

But he believes with the appointment of new judges almost completed, the court will be able to tackle the problems.

The chief judge said he remained committed to enhancing effective administration of justice and the welfare of judges and staff, noting that several practice directions have been issued to ensure seamless and robust administration of justice.

Despite the low budgetary allocations to the judiciary and the Federal High Court in particular, he stated that the training and retraining of judges and staff have continued.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was represented at the event by the Acting Director of Civil Appeals, Tijani Gazali.

He commended the court for its effort in straightening the country’s justice system, especially the recent declaration of banditry as a terrorist organisation.

According to the minister, such a step will further strengthen the fight against banditry and other security threats in the country.

A representative of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Kanu Agabi, who also spoke, described judges and lawyers as agents of change.

He, therefore, urged them to shun all forms of corruption.

Court Declares Bandits As Terrorists

Logo of a court gavel

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has declared bandit groups as terrorists.

In a ruling delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Friday, the court specifically held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups, constitute acts of terrorism.

The ruling followed an ex parte motion the Federal Government filed through the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The FG had in an affidavit it filed in support of the motion, told the court that intelligence reports affirmed that the bandit groups masterminded several killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings, and related acts of criminality in the north-east, north-central, and other parts of the country.

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It alleged that the groups were equally responsible for the growing cases of banditry, incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities, particularly in the Northwest and Northcentral states in Nigeria.

The Director of Public Prosecution, Abubakar, told the court that perturbed by the actions of the bandits, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for their proscription as a terrorist group.

Justice Taiwo accordingly granted the motions as prayed by declaring the activities of the “Yan Bindiga group, the Yan Ta’adda group and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the north-west and the north-central as acts of terrorism and illegality.

The court further outlawed the activities of the groups and other similar groups in any part of Nigeria.

It further made an order restraining “any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described”.

Justice Taiwo further ordered the FG to publish the proscription order in the official gazette as well as in two national dailies.

Alleged N400m Fraud: Olisa Metuh To Be Re-Arraigned On Oct 14

A file photo of former PDP spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 25, 2020. PHOTOS: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal High Court has fixed October 14, for the re-arraignment of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, over alleged fraud to the tune of ₦400 million.

The date was fixed following the absence of the new trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in court on Tuesday.

Consequently, Metuh’s re-trial could not proceed, despite his presence and that of all the parties involved, in court.

The court of Appeal, Abuja, had on December 16, 2020, nullified a Federal High Court judgement that convicted and sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.

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The appellate court held that the judgement of the trial judge, Okon Abang, was tainted with bias, and subsequently sent the case file back to the Federal High Court for retrial by another judge.

Metuh would be re-tried over allegations of receiving the sum of 400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), prior to the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution.

Lagos Council Polls: Again, Court Rejects Move To Stop Elections

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has again rejected an appeal to stop the local government elections scheduled to hold Saturday in the state.

The Alliance of Social Democrats and 10 other political parties had filed the suit against the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) and Lagos State Government seeking to stop the holding of the Chairmen and Councillors election into the 57 Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas.

The parties claimed that the Court of Appeal reversed INEC’s decision to deregister them but despite this, LASIEC did not list their parties on the ballot.

They, therefore, invited the court to stop Saturday’s LG elections.

The Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice in Lagos, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Moyosore Onigbanjo, however, countered this submission.

Onigbanjo told the judge that the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain their claims.

In a ruling delivered Friday, Justice Akintoye Aluko upheld the submissions of the Attorney General on behalf of the Lagos State Government and declined jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.

The court also transferred the suit to the State High Court pursuant to Section 22 (2) Federal High Court Act.

In a related development, the court also upheld the same decision in another matter filed by the Youth Party against LASIEC.

The court not only declined jurisdiction on the matter but also vacated the Interim Order of Injunction earlier granted in the matter on July 12.

With these developments, the elections in to the 57 Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas in the state will now hold as scheduled on Saturday, July 24.

Court Sentences 10 Pirates To 12 Years Jail Term For Hijacking Chinese Ship

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced 10 pirates to twelve years imprisonment each for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May 2020.

Justice Ayokunle Faji who said their actions affect the well-being of all Nigerians also ordered each pirate to pay a fine of N1million each.

Delivering his judgment on Friday, Justice Faji said the Federal Government proved beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.

The judge held: “I agree with the prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji that the prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offence committed by each of the defendants; the defendants conspired to commit the illegal act.

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“All the defendants acted in hijacking the ship to achieve their common goal.

“Consequently I find each of the defendants guilty as charged on all the counts.

“Each defendant is hereby sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

“In addition, the defendants should pay a fine of N1million each.

“The offence committed by the defendants affects the wellbeing of Nigerians and our image in the diaspora.

“The naira sum, dollars, and various currencies recovered from the defendants by the Nigerian Navy are hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

The judge convicted each of the defendants on all 4 counts made against them.

The convicts said to be residents in Nigeria, are Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.

They were arraigned by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on July 13, 2020, on a four-count charge bordering on the hijacking of the vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.

They pleaded not guilty and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, following which trial commenced.

In the course of the trial, the government told the court that the defendants “while armed with weapons, committed an illegal act of violence against the crew on board FV Hai Lu Feng II belonging to Haina Fishing Company by putting them in fear in order to take control of the vessel.”

The government also said their action violated Section 3 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, punishable under Section 2 of the same Act, and urged the court to use the case to send a strong message to pirates that Nigeria would not condone such criminal activities which had huge implications for the country.

Adeosun Did Not Require NYSC Certificate For Political Appointment, Court Rules

File Photo: Kemi Adeosun

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that former minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun did not require National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate for appointment into political office in the country.

The court also ruled that she was ineligible to participate in the scheme.

Adeosun resigned in 2018 after she was accused of forging an NYSC certificate.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo in a judgement on Wednesday ruled that she was ineligible to participate in the scheme when she graduated at 22 because she was then a British citizen.

According to the ruling, she was not supposed to present herself for the service, as at the time of graduation, because under the 1979 constitution which was in force as at that time, she was not a Nigerian citizen, either at her graduation or when she turned 30.

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The court further held that the constitution does not require her to present her first-degree certificate, or any other one, including the NYSC certificate, to be appointed a minister.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo added that the ministerial appointment of Adeosun, was not unconstitutional and illegal, even without presenting an NYSC certificate.

The judge proceeded to grant the four reliefs sought by the plaintiff, to include “a declaration that the plaintiff, being a United Kingdom citizen as at 1989 when she graduated from the University of East London, London, the United Kingdom at 22, she was ineligible to participate in the National Youth Service Corps scheme, established by the National Youth Service Corps Act, CAP N8, LFN, 2004.”

The judgment ‎was on a suit marked: FhC/ABJ/CS/303/2021 filed by Adeosun, with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as the sole defendant.

Salaries Of NASS Members Must Reflect Economic Realities – Court

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to fix the salaries and allowances of the 469 members of the National Assembly, to reflect the economic realities in the country.

The court on Friday also ruled that the National Assembly Service Commission has no power to determine the remuneration and allowances of lawmakers.

Justice Chuka Obiozor delivered the judgment via zoom today in the consolidated suits brought by two legal Practitioners, Mr. Monday Ubani and Mr. John Nwokwu, and more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians through the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE).

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana led the team of human rights lawyers who secured victory in what is being described as a landmark judgment.

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The suit was filed on the heels of reports that members of the National Assembly receive running costs and allowances not determined by RMAFC and that such allowances are illegal because they are far above what the RMAFC prescribed.

In 2018, one of the senators, Senator Shehu Sani had disclosed in an interview that “each senator receives N13.5 million monthly as running cost in addition to over N750,000.00 monthly consolidated salary and allowances”.

Another online publication further revealed that each senator is entitled to the sum of N200m as a constituency project allowance.

The National Assembly filed a Defence denying ever collecting such an amount but failed to disclose to the court how much they collect.

The NASS Commission in their defense also denied paying such an amount to the members. They also challenged the locus standi of the plaintiffs to institute the action against them.

But Justice Obiozor overruled these objections and held that in line with the constitution, the RMAFC should do a downward review of the salaries, remuneration, or allowances of the lawmakers to reflect the economic realities in the country.

The court also recommended that since the lawmakers have denied receiving jumbo pays, the EFCC should look at their books and prosecute them if it is found that they under collect such an amount of money.

The National Assembly comprises 469 members – with 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives. These public officers form a very tiny percentage of about 200 million Nigerians.

Federal High Court Amends Posting Of Judges

 

 

The Federal High Court has amended its initial list on the posting of Judges across the country.

This change comes as a result of the recent elevation of some judges of the court.

In a circular dated the 5th of May 2021, the Chief Judge of the Court, Hon. Justice John Tsoho stated that with the recent elevation to the court of appeal of certain justices, it had become inevitable to amend the posting of judges.

Justices Bature Gafai, Mohammed Abubakar, and Hassan are among those taking up positions in the court of Appeal, while Justice Mohammed Yunusa who was suspended for the alleged perversion of the course of justice and corruption charges has been recalled.

The judges posted to replace those elevated shall however await the swearing-in and eventual deployment of their elevated colleagues before reporting in the new stations.

Here’s the list of the new postings of all 75 justices of the court

Read Full List Below:

Alleged N650m Money Laundering Court strikes Out Charge Against Akinjide, Two Others

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has struck out the charge against a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Jumoke Akinjide and two others on allegations of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N650m.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke struck out the charge for being incompetent.

The former minister was standing trial alongside a former Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015, Senator Ayo Adeseun and a PDP Chieftain, Mrs Olanrewaju Otiti.

They were alleged to have received monies from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly disbursed by Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the charge after which trial commenced in the matter.

The defendants chalk Ed the trial and asked that the case be struck out. They also insisted that they could only be tried in the division where the offences allegedly took place.

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In his ruling on the application, Justice Aneke held that pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court has the overriding powers to transfer any matter from one judge to another, within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge also held that the charge was vague and defective as it did not specifically mention where the offences were allegedly committed.


The defendants were first arraigned on Jan. 16, 2018, before Muslim Hassan on a 24-count charge to which they pleaded not guilty.

They were granted bail and trial began before Justice Hassan with witnesses testifying, but midway into the case, the defendants alleged bias against the judge and the case was then transferred to Justice Aneke.

One of the counts reads, “That you, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (still at large), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Senator Ayo Ademola Adeseun and Chief Olanrewaju Otiti, on or about the 26th day of March 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of an N650,000,000, which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”

Court Convicts Ponzi Scheme Operator In Kano, Orders Return of N110m To Victims

 

Justice Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court, Kano on March 2, 2021, convicted one Maryam Abu Shinga on a one-count amended charge of retention of proceeds of crime. She was also ordered to pay the sum of N110, 000,000 in restitution to victims.

The convict was said to have lured her victims into a phony gold mining investment where she represented that the investor stands to earn 300% profit. She claimed that when an investor invests N500, 000, such investor could earn N1, 500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only) as returns on investment over a period of 4 weeks.

READ ALSO: Alleged $330,000 Fraud: EFCC Prosecutes Dutch National, Wife

The investigation, however, revealed that the convict was never into gold mining or any such investment. It was also discovered that even though Shinga was able to pay some early investors with funds taken from later investors, she allegedly diverted N394,541,910 (Three Hundred and Ninety-four Million, Five Hundred and Forty-one Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ten Naira) belonging to several other investors.

Upon arraignment, Shinga pleaded ‘not guilty’ thereby setting the stage for trial.
During the trial which commenced on January 23, 2020, the prosecution called five witnesses and tendered several documents in evidence. However, before the prosecution could close its case, the convict opted for a plea bargain.

In his judgment on Tuesday, March 2, Justice Allagoa accepted the terms of a plea bargain agreement, convicted, and sentenced the defendant to restitute the complainants in the sum of N110, 000,000.