The trial of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, resumed on a controversial note on Thursday with the Department of State Security (DSS) barring journalists and some court officials and lawyers from gaining access to the courtroom.
DSS officials had set up a barricade at the entrance of the Federal High Court where the case is to be heard and they prevented reporters and officials from gaining entry, resulting in angry scenes and arguments.
Nnamdi Kanu’s Special Counsel, Alloy Ejimakor while addressing journalists said the lawyers who accompanied him were denied access. He insisted that he will not enter the courtroom alone until the lawyers are allowed entry.
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s case is scheduled to be called up by 9:00 am. Now, the time is way past 9:00 am now.
“They want to grab me and put me in the courtroom alone. I am not going into this courtroom alone. I am going in with this multitude of lawyers who have come to show solidarity. So I am standing outside here in protest. The lead counsel is on his way, these lawyers with me have come to show solidarity and support and they are being prevented from going into the court. This is wrong,” Ejimakor said.
Another lawyer on Kanu’s legal team, Godwin Uwazurike said they are at the court not just to ensure justice is served but to see the process as well.
“What do we tell Ohanaeze, that we were stopped at the gate? Can there be a fair trial under this toxic atmosphere? No, there can’t be a fair trial.
“Justice must not just be done; it must be seen to have been done. That is why we are here,” he said.
Nnamdi Kanu is facing charges bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony charges brought against him by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government had filed seven amended charges bordering on treasonable felony and acts of terrorism against Kanu on Monday.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, filed the charges on behalf of the government.
Subsequently, the trial judge fixed today, October 21, for hearing and insisted that the trial will not go on in his absence.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has refused to make an order of status quo ante that would have suspended the local government elections in Lagos scheduled for Saturday, July 24, 2021.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, rather, adjourned till November 29, proceedings in the suit filed by an All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship aspirant, Raheem Rasaki Alani.
The judge gave the ruling after upholding the argument of counsel to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.
The plaintiff, Alani was seeking, among other things to restrain INEC from making available to LASIEC the register for the 20 Local Government Areas (LGA) in the state.
He argued that LASIEC ought to conduct the election in accordance with the “constitutionally-recognized” LGAs in Lagos, and not based on the 57 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the state.
He joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and LASIEC as first and second defendants/respondents in the suit.
Counsel to LASEIC, Pinheiro filed a preliminary objection asking the court to strike out the suit and/or dismiss same in its entirety.
At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, some political parties including the African Action Congress (AAC), African Peoples Movement (APM) informed the court of their intention to join as plaintiffs.
But Pinheiro asked the court to adjourn proceedings till after the annual vacation of the court because, among others, the intending parties who said they had filed a notice to join the suit, were yet to serve him the court processes and until that was done, the case could not go on.
He argued further that the failure of any party to comply with the law guiding the issue of service would rob the court of jurisdiction to entertain the case because “service is very fundamental before a case can be properly adjudicated on.”
When Alani’s counsel, Mr Taiwo Alabi suggested that given the development, it was reasonable that the court should issue an order of status quo ante bellum, for parties to stay action until the determination of the case pending in court, Pinheiro objected.
He submitted that Alabi’s offer was a trap “which the court must not fall for” adding that the Appeal Court had stated on different occasions that the court should not entertain that type of approach.
“How can the plaintiff in the face of various applications for joinder filed by different parties which are yet to be served on me, and a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court from entertaining the case filed by us, be seeking the order of status quo?
“I pray the court to adjourn further proceedings in this case till after the annual vacation of the court which is starting on the 26th of July,” Pinheiro added.
Granting his application, Justice Aneke adjourned till November 29 for the hearing of all applications.
He advised the plaintiffs to approach the vacation judge during the court’s vacation.
Two courts in Anambra on Monday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to list the names of Professor Chukwuma Soludo and Senator Ugochukwu Uba as the candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), respectively for the November 6, 2021, governorship election.
In Professor Soludo’s case, the High Court presided over by Justice C.C. Okaa directed INEC to publish the former CBN Governor’s name which was removed from the electoral umpire’s list last Friday and replaced with that of Hon Chukwuma Michael Umeoji.
Justice Okaa in passing judgment ordered INEC to remove the name of Hon Umeoji from its list and ordered him to stop parading himself as the candidate of APGA for the November election.
The court also reaffirmed that Chief Victor Oye is the indisputable national chairman of APGA and directed that Chief Edozie Njoku and Mr. Jude Okeke should stop parading themselves as chairmen.
Similarly, in Senator Uba’s case, a High Court in Awka presided over by Justice Obiora Nwabunike did not only order INEC to list the lawmaker’s name as the rightful candidate but also awarded N10 million damages against the defendants namely, the PDP and Mr. Val Ozigbo, the other candidate of the party produced at the primary supervised by the leadership of the party.
According to the judge, the primary that produced Uba was the authentic one because there was a court ruling by Justice Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which had not been vacated.
“An order of the court, whether it is right or wrong, must be obeyed until it is vacated. The peculiarity of this case is that there was an existing court order that is still alive” Vanguard quoted the judge as saying.
He said the plaintiff, Uba, relied on the judgment of the FCT High Court to conduct the PDP primary that took place at Paul University, Awka on the 26th of June, explaining that since the PDP did not like the judgment of the FCT High Court, it should have endeavored to vacate it before deciding to use super delegates during the primary that produced Ozigbo.
Justice Nwabunike also dismissed the issue of lack of jurisdiction prayed for by the defendants, stating that jurisdiction, which he described as the livewire of court, was invested in his court by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
South Africa’s embattled ex-president Jacob Zuma returned to court on Tuesday for the latest round in a corruption case that saw lawyers clash angrily over the much-delayed proceedings.
Zuma, in power from 2009 to 2018, faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering relating to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment.
He allegedly took bribes of four million rand ($220,000 / 200,000 euros) over a $3.4-billion arms deal with French aerospace and defence giant Thales in 1999, when he was deputy president.
After heated exchanges between prosecution and defence attorneys in the latest pre-trial hearing in the 15-year-old case, Judge Kate Pillay adjourned until September 8 when, she hoped, a date would be set for the trial’s start.
“Hopefully the application will be launched and perhaps even heard, if an urgent date would be secured,” Pillay said.
Pillay also cancelled the arrest warrant the ex-president was slapped with in February after he failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing while undergoing medical treatment in Cuba.
Outside the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma’s son Edward Zuma told local television station eNCA, “I doubt that he will get a fair trial.”
“Clearly this conspiracy against former President Zuma is not something that is new, and it’s not something that will end now, it is something will forever be there until they achieve what they want to achieve,” he said.
Zuma was forced to step down in 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after a nine-year reign marked by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.
He recently abandoned several attempts to halt the trial, claiming his “innocence (would be) demonstrated for all to see”.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering 35 political parties in the country.
Justice Anwuli Chikere gave the interlocutory order on Monday at the hearing of a suit by some of the parties recently deregistered by the electoral body.
The Judge said the electoral commission failed to oppose the application by the applicants whose rights of association must be protected.
The court while ruling on the interlocutory motion between Advanced Congress of Democratic (ACD) and two others against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC, therefore, restrained the electoral umpire from deregistering any political party.
INEC had earlier on February 6 deregistered 74 political parties from participating in fresh elections.
According to INEC, the deregistered parties breached their requirements for registration because they failed to win at least 2596 of votes cast in one state of the federation during the presidential election.
Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu had disclosed that the action was carried out after a review of the performance of political parties after the 2019 general elections to see which parties qualify to exists.
In a reaction to this announcement, three political parties who were later joined by thirty-two others had approached the Federal High Court seeking an order restraining the electoral body from carrying out the proscription of the political parties.
Justice Idris Kutigi who gave the ruling also granted bail to the second defendant, Aliyu Abubakar in the sum of N50m with two sureties who must have landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court.
Abubakar is also to deposit his international passport with the Registrar of the court.
The sitting Judge stressed that any breach of the bail conditions during Abubakar’s trial will lead to immediate revocation.
The sureties are also expected to attend the trial with the defendant.
Similarly, the third defendant, Rasky Gbinigie has been granted bail in the sum of N10m with one surety.
Mr Gbinigie was asked to sign an undertaking not to interfere with the trial or further investigation by the EFCC.
According to the court’s ruling on Thursday, Mr Gbinigie’s surety must produce his/her three years tax clearance certificate.
An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, the state capital, has restrained the 68 sacked council chairmen and chairmen of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) from the forceful and illegal takeover of the council offices across the state.
The court, presided over by Honourable Justice Moshud Abass, granted the four reliefs sought by the lead counsel to the Oyo State Government, Dr. Akin Onigbinde (SAN), including an order of interim injunction restraining the sacked chairmen from forcefully taking over the Local Government Councils or taking steps capable of causing breach of peace in the state.
The orders of interim injunction, which were granted by the Oyo State High Court followed an ex-parte motion filed by the State Government in Suit No: I/78/2020.
Also restrained were the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar; Commissioner of Police, Oyo State Command, Mr Shina Olukolu, and the Oyo State APC chairman, Mr Akin Oke.
The parties and their agents were restrained from taking any step that could tamper with the pending hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
According to the court, the sacked chairmen, as well as the four other defendants, their officers, agents, privies or otherwise, were restrained from taking steps that would cause a breach of peace by embarking on self-help to give effect to a letter dated 14th January 2020 with reference number HAGF/OYO/2020/VOL.I/1 issued by the AGF to the sacked chairmen and the IGP pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Meanwhile, the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state has vowed to continue in office despite an injunction purportedly procured by the state government.
In a statement, the ALGON Chairman in the state, Prince Ayodeji Abass – Aleshinloye, noted that it is a fact that there cannot be a restraining order for an action that had already been completed while the purported order had not been served on any member of ALGON.
“It is unfortunate that the state continues to embark on an exercise in futility. Our people have resumed office since Friday 24 and Monday 27, January 2020 and they (State Government) claimed to have an order of restrain procured today, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Meanwhile, that order has not been served on anyone and if eventually served on anyone, it is of no legal effect. Is it possible to restrain an action that has already been completed?”
The full statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to an unconfirmed order purportedly issued by a Court claiming to restrain elected local government Council Chairmen and Councillors from resuming office in pursuance of our constitutional mandate and as affirmed by the Supreme Court and Oyo State High Court Judgment.
Let all and sundry be informed that we have not been served with any such order and/or process in any fresh suit. We will like to state the following for the purpose of record:
• We were never removed from office in pursuance of any Order and there is no law that can be employed in aid of an illegality that will stand in a constitutional democracy.
• Reference to a purported Court Order in internet chat room does not constitute service of Court process until such order is served on relevant parties.
• More importantly, it is trite in law that an order of injunction cannot lie against acts already completed. All the local government Chairmen and Councillors have since resumed in their offices in 33 the local governments and 35 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) since Friday 24th and Monday 27th January, 2020. Hundreds of witnesses abound to testify about the resumption including the Nigeria Police, Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Shina Olukolu, Division Police Officers (DPO) of various divisions as instructed by the Inspector General of Police to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court Judgment, Local government staff, Peoples democratic Party (PDP) members and the thugs they procured to cause a breach of peace in some Council Areas as well as witnessed by several other citizens of Oyo State.
No injunction can restrain a completed act. We are by this release putting the Police and other security agencies on notice to ensure that the armed People Democratic Party thugs roaming the street are not allowed to breach the peace in aid of any purported order made in futility. We remain in office until the end of our mandate.”
The Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos, has ordered the remand of the Chairman, Nadabo Energy Limited, Abubakar Ali Peters, in prison for allegedly plotting to evade trial and abscond from the country.
According to a statement by the Head, Media & Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, Justice Christopher Balogun gave the order on Wednesday.
Peters is being tried on 27 charges bordering on obtaining by false pretence, forgery and use of forged documents to the tune of N978, 401, 732, 09 brought against him by the EFCC.
The defendant allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of the said sum of money by supplying 6, 505,140. 04 litres of Petroleum Motor Spirit, PMS, instead of 19,488, 992 litres, being the quantity he was contracted to supply.
He also allegedly forged the documents that were used to procure the product in order to conceal the exact amount he paid for it and receive in excess money for the product supplied.
At the resumed sitting today, the defence counsel, Emefo Etudo, sought to withdraw from the case on the grounds that his client was planning to jeopardize the case and abscond from the country.
Etudo, in a sworn affidavit, also told the court he urged his client to pay back the money upon realizing that he had defrauded the Federal Government. “My Lord, he agreed to pay the money and subsequently made some payments.
“He, however, stopped at some point.
“He also informed me of his plans to abscond from the country without paying back in full the money he obtained under false pretence,” Etudo stated.
The defence counsel, in his further submission, told the court that his client was planning to frustrate a similar case after receiving money from parties involved.
“My Lord, my client forged his signature on the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, documents and gave damaging false information about me and other lawyers involved in the case.
“He is involved in three oil subsidy cases, although the EFCC is only aware of two of them.
“The total money belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria, which was siphoned abroad, is about N2billion,” he further told the court.
The defence counsel, therefore, urged the court to permit him to withdraw from the case, saying “the defendant is a threat to national security and will abscond if he continues on the bail he was granted by the court.”
The prosecution counsel, Seidu Atteh, did not oppose the request of the defence counsel.
Justice Balogun granted the defence counsel leave to withdraw from the case based on the serious allegations levelled against his client.
The Judge also vacated all the undertakings made on behalf of the defendant by the counsel’s law firm since he could no longer assure the court that he is in a position to produce the defendant at his trial.
Consequently, Justice Balogun remanded the defendant in prison custody and adjourned the case to October 15, 2019, for continuation of hearing.
A Lagos High Court sitting in the Igbosere area has convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, a Béninoise househelp, Christian Hounvenon Yavine, for the murder of a 78-year-old woman, Mariam Atinuke Abiola.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye found Yavine, 23, guilty of nearly severing Abiola’s head with a knife while she slept in her daughter’s home in the Ipaja area of Lagos. The offence was committed in July 1, 2014.
The Lagos State Government promptly arraigned The defendant to court on a one count charade of murder to which he pleaded not guilty.
The Prosecuting counsel, Akin George said the incident happened at Block 74, Flat 4, Ipaja Low Cost Housing Estate, Pen Cinema, Lagos, the home of Ajoke Ashiwonyi Abiola, the daughter of the deceased.
The court was also told that on the day of the incident, the daughter was away at a Church Vigil.
In her judgment, Justice Ipaye dismissed Yavine’s claim that he was 14 years’ old at the time of the offence, and could not have committed the offence having been born in the year 2000. The judge noted that there was ample corroborative evidence that falsified his claim.
Justice Ipaye also noted that the prosecution’s evidence showed that at the time of the murder, the defendant was seeking admission to a university, and would have registered to sit an entrance exam, but for financial challenges. The judge said that it was unlikely that the defendant was seeking university admission at the age of 14.
The judge also relied on a birth certificate obtained by the Lagos State Government from the Beninoise’s alleged birth hospital in Benin Republic which showed that he was born in 1996.
The defendant had also claimed that the confessional statement tendered by the government against him, was contrived by the police. He had testified that being a French speaker, he could not have made the statement, which was written in English, a language he did not understand.
But the judge observed that there was corroborative evidence to the contrary. Justice Ipaye noted that the convict lived with the deceased for two weeks before the incident, during which he also went to the market with her.
The judge wondered what language he spoke with her, if he truly did not understand any English.
Furthermore, the judge held that the deceased was also caught by the “Doctrine of last seen”.
The Beniniose househelp was the only one with Abiola while she was alive on the night of June 30 and in the early hours of July 1, when she was found dead. He was thus the last person to see her alive and the first person to see her dead.
The judge noted that the doctrine requires that a person charged with murder who was the last person seen with the deceased, should offer some explanation as to how the deceased met his death. This the convict failed to do.
During trial, he had claimed that the police wrongfully charged him for the offence, because he failed to pay a N200,000 bribe. He also testified through an interpreter that on June 30, 2014, his employer locked him and the deceased in separate rooms before leaving for her vigil.
According to him, there was also one Mr Gbenga, who stayed in the house for about a week.
He said: “That day, my boss said she was going for vigil and that she was going to leave her mother at home with me. Before she left, she locked me inside a room and also locked her mother, who was sleeping, inside the palour. She said when she returned, she would open the door.”
The defendant explained that when his boss arrived the next morning, she began banging on the door of the room where he was, asking him what happened to her mother.
“My boss said that thieves came to attack the house and killed her mother. That morning there was one man that came into the house; I don’t know his name, I also didn’t know who called the police that same morning. Gbenga, who was with us, I couldn’t find him”.
When asked what the deceased was doing in the sitting room, the defendant said she slept in the palour because she and her daughter usually quarrelled if they slept in her daughter’s room.
After a trial which lasted over 3 years, Justice Ipaye resolved all the issues against the defendant and convicted him accordingly. The judge sentenced him to death by hanging.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja has levelled a fine of N200,000 against counsel for Apartment le Paradis, a hotel in which Nanle Dariye, son of a former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye, is a director, for inefficiency.
Nanle was on February 27, 2018 arraigned along with Apartment le Paradis on a six-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N1.5 billion, to which he pleaded “not guilty”.
Shortly after the prosecution closed its case against him, his counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, on February 13, 2019 argued his “no-case” submission via an application dated and filed on December 13, 2018.
Ruling on the application on March 7, 2019 the trial judge struck out count one of the charges, which directly affected Nanle, and held that the hotel had a case to answer in the money laundering charge.
Invariably, Justice Ojukwu had adjourned to April 10, 2019 for the second defendant to open its defence.
However, at the resumed sitting, Agabi was absent in court, but instead, sent in a junior lawyer, who rather than continue with the defence, appealed for an adjournment, noting that she was just informed about the case and was not prepared to lead the defence.
She further added that an agreement had been struck with the prosecution as regards the request for adjournment.
But counsel for the EFCC, Ike Okonjo, refuted the claim of any such agreement, stressing that the prosecution had come prepared to continue with the case and was surprised at the position of the defence.
“For the records, we do not have any agreement with the defence, and this is all mischief to delay the course of the law,” Okonjo said.
Expressing displeasure at the rather lackadaisical attitude of the defence, Justice Ojukwu wondered how the defence would come after one month unprepared to continue with the case.
“I have given you ample time to adequately prepare for the defence, you cannot come here one month after to ask for another adjournment,” the trial judge said.
The trial judge, thereafter, adjourned to May 13 to 15, 2019, and ordered the defence to pay N200,000 fine before the next trial date.