COVID-19 Forces Lagos Chief Judge To Free 18 Inmates Awaiting Trial

 

 

The Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Kazeem Alogba, has freed 18 inmates of Kirikiri Medium Security Custodial Centre awaiting trial in the state.

Justice Alogba released the awaiting-trial inmates on Tuesday during an open court session held on the premises of the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court in Igbosere, Lagos Island area of the state.

This comes as part of efforts to decongest the correctional facilities and prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“The selection of the pardoned inmates followed due diligence because, from past experience, inmates who were undeserving of pardoned had been inadvertently released,” he said.

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Those released were said to have been granted pardon pursuant to Section 1 (1) of the Criminal Justice Release from Custody Special Provision Act, 2007.

Justice Alogba however advised the lucky inmates not to return to crime.

He warned that with the state’s database and fingerprints of criminals, harsher punishment awaited them if they were ever caught committing a crime.

“Don’t think that if you go back and breach the law, we won’t know; we will know because in Lagos State we now have a database and fingerprints. If you are caught in crime and brought back, your punishment will be severe,” Justice Alogba said.

Meanwhile, the Controller of the Lagos Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Samuel Iyakoregha appealed to the Chief Judge to direct that criminal cases should be heard early in the day especially because inmates taken out for court hearings were often returned late to the custodial facility owing to the poor state of the road.

PHOTOS: Sanwo-Olu Swears In Justice Kazeem Alogba As State Chief Judge

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, congratulates Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba as the new Chief Judge of the State during the swearing-in ceremony at Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja

 

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has sworn Justice Kazeem Alogba as the Chief Justice of the state.

See Photos Below: 

 

Bayelsa Election Tribunal Fixes May 3 To Hear Petition

Bayelsa Election TribunalThe Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has fixed May 3 for the commencement of the hearing of the petition file by Mr Timipre Sylva.

This is coming after Mr Sylva, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Bayelsa State governorship election, challenged the return of Mr Seriake Dickson as the duly elected Governor of the state.

At the resumed sitting of the tribunal, ‎Justice Kazeem Alogba, directed all the parties to prepare their witnesses before the full commencement of hearing.

He added that the conclusion of pre-hearing trial was to enable the tribunal guide the parties properly, stressing that no application would be entertained once the hearing begins except for applications with very good reasons.

The tribunal ordered the petitioner to open its case on the set date while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to open its defense on May 10.

Governor Dickson is also expected to open his defence on May 20 just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would take its turn on May 30 as the third respondent.

Lawyer to the petitioner, Felix Okoroti, and that of INEC, Alex Ejesieme, expressed satisfaction with the conclusion of the pre-trial hearing.

Tribunal Grants Sylva Leave To Inspect Election Materials

Election MaterialsThe Bayelsa State election tribunal sitting in Abuja has granted leave to the All Progressives Congress, APC and its candidate in the governorship election, Mr Timipre Sylva to inspect and make copies of 30 election materials used for the poll.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Kazeem Alogba, however removed seven other items from the list because the petitioner had not shown how not having those items would affect its case.

The items removed include the final and interim report on the Kogi governorship election, summary of the total voters register, security report relating to the election and election observers report.

Others are video and audio recordings relating to the Bayelsa governorship election and duplicate of receipts issued by INEC for the certification of documents.

The tribunal ordered INEC to allow them access to the approved election materials within 14 days.

The APC and its governorship candidate had filed an application seeking to have access to and also inspect 37 materials relating to elections.

Mr Timipre Sylva said that these materials would help him further maintain his case, which is challenging the election of Mr Seriake Dickson as Governor of Bayelsa State.

Bayelsa Tribunal Fixes April 11 To Decide On Inspection of Election Materials

 Election MaterialsJustice Kazeem Alogba has fixed April 11 for ruling on whether the APC candidate in the Bayelsa governorship election, Timipre Sylva, can inspect the materials used for the polls.

The Balyesa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday heard an application filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Timipre Sylva, to inspect election materials used for the December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016 governorship election.

Counsel to Mr Timipre Sylva, Sebastian Hon, had moved the motion hinged on seven grounds.

He urged the Tribunal to grant the request, since INEC, which conducted the election and in possession of the items sought to be inspected, is not opposing the application.

According to him, in law, the facts deposed to in an affidavit and not challenged by way of counter affidavit are deemed admitted by the force of law.

He argued that it was wrong of Governor Seriake Dickson to claim that Mr Sylva’s claim was vague when the documents sought to be inspected were well pleaded in the petition and in line with section 151 of the Electoral Act 2010.

Opposing the application, lawyer to Governor Dickson, Tayo Oyetibo, urged the Tribunal to reject the application on the ground that it lacked merit.

Oyetibo insisted that the request of the petitioner was vague because it failed to name the maker of the items sought to be inspected

He also argued that the petitioner failed to give reasons he wanted to inspect the election materials, adding that the motion violates Section 104 of the Evidence Act because the mandatory fee for certification of the materials has not been paid by the petitioner.

Among the materials sought to be inspected are the ballot papers, Form C4 and duplicate copy of the Certificate of Return issued to Governor Seriake Dickson.

Tribunal To Hear Sylva’s Application To Inspect Election Materials on Thursday

Rivers rerunThe Balyesa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will on Thursday hear an application filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Timipre Sylva, to inspect election materials used for the December 5th 2015 and January 9th 2016 governorship election.

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Kazeem Alogba, fixed the hearing of the application following the agreement by the party’s suit.

Among the materials sought to be inspected are the ballot papers, Form C4 and duplicate copy of the Certificate of Return issued to Governor Seriake Dickson.

At the opening of the proceedings Justice Alogba heard some of the applications filed by the parties in the petition.

The tribunal however deferred hearing in two applications; first, an application challenging the competence of some portions of the petition filed by Mr Sylva which it adjourned to April 7th and one filed by counsel to Mr Sylva asking the tribunal to allow him inspect the election materials used for the governorship election.

Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who told the court, he did not object to the request, however, asked for 14 days to enable the election umpire comply with the directive, if granted in favour of the petition.

The tribunal also heard the application filed by a faction of the Action Alliance Party challenging the petition filed by another faction of the party against the election of Governor Dickson.

A faction led by the National Legal Adviser of the party, Anaukyaa Peter, distanced the party from the petition and demanded a withdrawal of the petition on the grounds that the national leadership of the party did not authorize the filing of the petition.

However another faction of the party, which filed the said petition, led by the National Chairman of the party, Reverend Johnson Ayozie, insisted that the other faction lacked the locus standi to seek for the withdrawal of a petition they did not file.

He therefore asked the tribunal to refuse the application of the faction led by the National Legal Adviser and allow their petition to be determined by the tribunal.

Lagos Asks Court To Dismiss Synagogue’s Fresh Suit

SynagogueThe Lagos State government has urged a Lagos High Court in Ikeja to dismiss with substantial cost, a suit filed by the Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

The suit filed by SCOAN is challenging the verdict of the Coroner Inquest into the collapse of a six-storey building within the church premises on September 12, 2014 that led to the death of 116 persons.

The verdict of the Coroner, presided over by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, was delivered on July 8, 2015 and same indicted the church and its engineers for criminal negligence and recommended them for prosecution.

The Lagos State government had thereafter, filed 111 counts criminal charge against the trustees of the church, the two engineers and two companies before Justice Lawal Akapo also of the Ikeja High Court.

Magistrate Komolafe had held that the building that killed the victims was built without approval, adding that its collapse was due to structural defect.

But the church and its engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, rejected the verdict, describing it as unreasonable and one-sided.

In their fresh action filed before Justice Kazeem Alogba, the Trustees of SCOAN had sought for an order stopping their proposed arraignment and an order quashing the decision of the Coroner.

When the matter came up before Justice Alogba on Thursday, lawyer to the Trustees, Mr E.L. Akpofure (SAN) said that Magistrate Komolafe erred in law to have sat as Coroner Court in Alimosho District, which he argued was non-existent.

Akpofure also referred to an argument of the Lagos State government to the effect that the criminal charge filed before Justice Akapo was pursuant to the investigation conducted by the Police and not the decision of the Coroner, saying that such argument was a confirmation that no investigation was conducted because the Police never interrogated the Trustees of the church.

In response, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, said on Thursday that the issue of wrong heading of the nomenclature of the Coroner was a mere irregularity which lacked the vibe to render the proceedings of the Coroner invalid.

While describing it as a mere technical point, Kazeem said that such argument was not directed at substantial justice and as such, the court should discountenance it.

Speaking on the powers of the Attorney General of a state to file criminal charge, Kazeem, who cited the case of Okereke Onyuike versus the People of Lagos State to buttress his argument, said once satisfied that a prima facie evidence has been established, the Attorney General has powers to file criminal charge even without the input of the Police.

While questioning the jurisdiction of the court to hear the instant suit, Kazeem argued that the trustees of the church were clearly out of time as mandated by Order 40, Rule 4 of the rules of the court within which to file the suit and as such, the case was dead on arrival.

He said under the rules, such application ought to have been brought within three months of the decision of the Coroner, but it was filed on January 13, 2016, almost six months after the verdict of the Coroner, which was delivered on July 8, 2015.

The Attorney General also faulted the verifying affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by one Sunday Okoroji, an Assistant to Prophet TB Joshua, saying the deponent lacked the power to replace the trustees of the church, who are legally empowered to do so.

He added: “My Lord, we submit that there is no proper verifying affidavit before this court because the said Okoroji cannot replace the trustees of the church who are still alive and kicking and as such, the application is incompetent,” Kazeem argued.

He thereafter, urged the court to dismiss the application with substantial cost, saying it was in the interest of justice for the court to so hold.

Justice Alogba, in a brief bench ruling, said that he would give the matter the urgency it deserved being a matter of public importance.

The judge consequently fixed February 19 for judgment on the matter.

Court Reserves Judgment In Gov Chime’s Appeal

Sullivan_chimeThe Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has reserved for judgement an appeal filed by the Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, challenging the judgment of Justice Kazeem Alogba of a Lagos High Court.

Gov Chime had instituted a N1.5 billion libel suit against his opponent in the 2007 gubernatorial election, Chief Okechukwu Ezea and The Guardian Newspapers Limited.

In his statement of claim, Chime accused Ezea of addressing a press conference on or about August 11, 2007, attended by numerous representatives of the press in Abuja, where he allegedly accused Chime of wanting to kill him.

The governor submitted that his personal and leadership reputation had been seriously damaged, adding that he had suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.

He therefore demanded N1 billion as damages from Ezea and N500, 000 from The Guardian, being damages for the alleged libelous publication contained on page seven of the newspaper dated August 14, 2007.

But, Justice Alogba had dismissed the suit and awarded a cost of N100, 000 in favour of the two defendants.

Dissatisfied, the governor filed an appeal against the decision of the lower court.

At the resumed hearing of the appeal on Tuesday, the appellate court presided over by Justice Rita Pemu reserved the appeal for judgement after counsel on both sides adopted their briefs of arguments.

Counsel to the governor, Fred Onuobia urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgement of the lower court.

He submitted that the lower court judge erred in law when he held that his client failed to prove that his opponent, Chief Ezea uttered the defamatory statements complained of at the Abuja Press Conference on August 7, 2007.

He argued that the lower court in its judgement jettisoned and attached no weight to a Vanguard Newspaper publication of the libel on the grounds that Vanguard unlike the Guardian Newspapers limited was not sued as the printer and publisher of the defamatory statements.

He further submitted that the lower court erred when it held that the words published in The Guardian newspaper were incapable of defaming the governor.

In his brief of argument however, the opposing counsel Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN urged the court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgement of the lower court.