Court Dismisses Evans’ Application To Quash Murder Charges

I Have No Hand In Suits Filed Against Police, Evans Says
File photo of Evans

The Lagos State High Court in Igbosere has dismissed the two applications by alleged kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans seeking to quash charges of murder and illegal sales of firearms preferred against him.

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in a ruling on Friday, November 10, described the applications as misconceived and lacking in merit.

The judge held that the proof of evidence filed by the state in support of the charges disclosed sufficient material worth pursuing by the prosecuting counsel.

The dismissal of the applications paved the way for Evans’ arraignment on two fresh charges.

It will be recalled that the Lagos State High court in Ikeja on Friday, November 3 dismissed an application to quash the charges of conspiracy and kidnapping preferred against Evans.

Evans’ counsel, Olukoya Ogungbeje, last week, told the trial judge, Justice Hakeem Oshodi that the application was premised on the fact that a similar charge of kidnapping was before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the state high court.

Court Sentences Cynthia Osokogu’s Murderers To Death

Cynthia OsokoguThe Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island has convicted and sentenced two men to death by hanging for the murder of late Cynthia Osokogu.

Trial judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, held that the prosecution proved the case against them beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Akinlade sentenced Okwumo Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike to death after finding them guilty of murdering Cynthia Osokogu by chaining her hands and legs, as well as choking and gagging her.

The act was said to have led to asphyxia, the absence of oxygen supply to the body of the victim which the court identified as the cause of her death.

The late Cynthia Osokogu, a postgraduate student of Nassarawa State University, was murdered on July 22, 2012 at a hotel in Festac Town by the men who lured her to Lagos after she met them through a social media platform.

Justice Akinlade had fixed March 23 to deliver judgment in the trial of four men charged with her murder, after counsel to the Lagos State Government and those who represented the defendants adopted their final written addresses.

In arriving at the judgment on Thursday, the judge held that the prosecution had successfully proven against the two defendants the offences of conspiracy to kill, murder, conspiracy to steal and stealing.

She found the convicts guilty on the strength of the circumstantial evidence and exhibits presented against them by the prosecution, and also based on their confessional statements made to the Police.

The court, however, discharged and acquitted the third and fourth defendants on the ground that the prosecution had not proved its case against them.

Subsidy Fraud: Two Convicted For Stealing 754m Naira From Govt.

artificial fuel scarcity, imo state, imo state governmentA Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Friday convicted two oil marketers, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo – Ndagi and their company, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited for defrauding the Federal Government of the sum of 754 million Naira.

The convicts, were arraigned before the court for allegedly obtaining the sum from the government through the Petroleum Product Subsidy Support Fund.

They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an eight count charge of conspiracy, obtaining property by false pretence, forgery and altering of documents.

While delivering judgment in the five year old case, Justice Lateefat Okunnu held that the prosecution had proved its case against the convicts beyond all reasonable doubt.

Collapsed In The Dock

The judge stressed that the convicts knew that the documents they presented to the government to claim subsidy was forged but they presented it anyway to derive “undeserved benefits”.

The first convict, Walter Watgbasoma, who is the Chairman of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, was convicted in absentia, as he had fled the country despite the fact that the court was with his passport and other travel documents.

He is currently under house arrest in the UK where he is also accused of fraud.

The second convict, Mrs Ugo-Nnadi, who was present in court, collapsed in the dock before the judge could pronounce the sentence.

The ensuing confusion forced the court to adjourn the proceedings to Monday, January 16 when the sentence will be delivered.

Family members later claimed that Mrs Ugo-Nnadi, who is the Managing director of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, was subsequently rushed to a hospital in the company of some prison officials.

The Court has, however, acquitted and discharged the third defendant, one Babafemi Fakuade, an official of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for lack of evidence linking him to the crime.

The offense committed by the two convicts attracts a minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment while the maximum sentence is 20 years.

EFCC Arraigns Adegboruwa Over Illegal Property Dealing

Ebun-Olu-AdegboruwaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned a prominent Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, before a Federal High Court in Lagos for illegally dealing in a landed property.

The property is said to be under an interim forfeiture order by Justice Christopher Balogun of the Lagos State High Court.

Mr Adegboruwa pleaded not guilty to the one count charge and his lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), asked the court to grant him bail on self recognizance.

The lawyer assured presiding justice, Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, that his client would neither jump bail nor interfere with the prosecution’s witnesses.

In proof of the application, Mr Etiaba also told the court that Mr Adegboruwa is a parish pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church, Lekki branch who also fights for the downtrodden.

In his ruling on the application, Justice Oguntoyinbo admitted that he was reluctant to grant Mr Adegboruwa bail on self-recognizance.

Instead, the judge granted him bail in the sum of N10m with two sureties in like sum.

The judge said the sureties must have landed properties in Lagos with bank accounts, office and residential addresses which must be verified by the court’s registrar.

Before the bail conditions are perfected, Justice Oguntoyinbo ordered that Mr Adegboruwa be remanded in the custody of the EFCC.

She then adjourned till the 13th of June for commencement of trial.

Adegboruwa was arraigned on a one count charge alongside one Jonathan Udeagbala.

In the charge marked, FHC/L/181c/2016, presented before the court by its prosecutor, Idris Abdullahi, the EFCC claimed that Adegboruwa and Udeagbala dealt in a property “lying, being and situate at House 105, Nicon Estate, Lekki, Lagos,” without the authorisation of the EFCC.

According to the anti-graft agency, the said property was a subject of litigation before Justice Christopher Balogun of the Lagos State High Court.

The EFCC claimed that on August 13, 2013, Adegboruwa and Udeagbala dealt with the property, in defiance of the order.

The defendants were accused of leasing the property to one Shelf Drilling Nigeria Limited in the sum of N61.6 million, which the EFCC claimed was credited into Adegboruwa’s account with Zenith Bank.

The prosecutor claimed that Adegboruwa and Udeagbala committed an offence punishable under Section 32(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.

Alleged Obstruction Of Justice: Tarfa’s Application To Quash Charges Fail

Rickey TarfaJustice Aishat Opesanwo on Tuesday dismissed the preliminary objections filed by Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN), to the two-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice by bribing a judge.

The court, which resolved all the issues raised by the Senior Advocate against him, held that his application seeking to quash the charges lacked merit.

This is coming barely five days after one court asked him to defend the charges made against him by the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, a second court where he is facing charges has reached a similar verdict.

Last week Friday, Justice Adedayo Akintoye of the Lagos State High Court sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island dismissed the objections of Mr Tarfa to a 27-count charge filed against him by the EFCC.

The court assumed jurisdiction to hear the case and asked Mr Tarfa to defend the allegations of willful obstruction of justice, refusal to declare his assets, making false information and offering gratification to a public officer.

Like Justice Akintoye, Justice Opesanwo before whom he is facing a two-count charge has also dismissed his preliminary objections.

Mr Tarfa had argued that the charges bordering on obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the cause of justice amounted to an abuse of court process.

He urged the court to quash the charges or dismiss them.

Justice Aishat Opesanwo has however held that his objections lack merit.

In a ruling that lasted for an hour and a half, Justice Opesanwo held that Mr Tarfa’s argument that the EFCC was both the accuser, investigator and the judge in the case could not be substantiated.

The court held that the issue of a lack of fair hearing as canvassed by the Senior Advocate simply did not arise as the proceedings before the court had given him an opportunity to explain his actions.

On whether the case against Mr Tarfa constituted economic & financial crimes as to fall within the jurisdiction of the anti-graft agency, the court agreed with the EFCC that Section 7 clothes the commission with the responsibility of dealing also with any form of corrupt practices.

Justice Opesanwo held that the allegation of communicating with a judge is suggestive that Mr Tarfa was trying to gain an unfair advantage, one which falls within the categorization of corrupt malpractice and he clearly had to explain the legitimacy of his actions.

The Judge also upheld the powers of the EFCC to institute an action on behalf of the government, whether federal or state.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, reports that with this ruling out of the way, the stage is now set for the trial of Mr Tarfa.

Justice Opesanwo has fixed the June 22 and 23 for commencement of trial.

Manslaughter: Court Grants Ibinabo Fiberesima Bail

Ibinabo Fibersima - CourtThe Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has granted bail to a former beauty queen, Ibinabo Fiberesima, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment for manslaughter.

The two million Naira bail was granted on Thursday, pending the determination of her appeal against the manslaughter sentence at the Supreme Court.

The court’s verdict was split two-to-one in Ibinabo’s favour.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Samuel Oseji held that there was nothing to show that the former beauty queen would jump bail.

The court also held that there was enough evidence before it showing that Ibinabo had health challenges, which made her application for bail found to have merit.

The bail was then granted in the sum of two million Naira with two sureties in like sum. The court also held that the two sureties must be resident in Lagos and must each swear to an affidavit of means.

Justice Oseji also held that it would amount to injustice if after Fiberesima had been kept in prison, the Supreme Court later, after about three to four years, decided that the five year jail term imposed on her should be set aside.

Presiding over the proceedings, Justice Sidi Bage aligned himself with the lead judgment but the third member of the panel, Justice Yagata Nimpar, dissented, as he insisted that the application for bail on grounds of ill health was untenable.

He noted that there was no record before the court to show that Ibinabo Fiberesima had suffered any complication since February, when she had surgery for breast cancer.

Justice Nimpar also said that there was adequate medical facilities in the prison to cater to her health challenges or in the alternative, the prison hospital could give her referral for consultancy in the event that she has any condition that could not be taken care of by the prison hospital.

In an affidavit of urgency filed before the court by her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina, one Victor Eden had deposed to a six-paragraph affidavit, stating that Fiberesima recently had a surgical operation for breast cancer.

Eden said in the affidavit that Fiberesima’s surgical wound was yet to heal properly, as she was still under the watch of her doctors. He stressed that she was afraid that her life might be endangered if kept in the prison custody.

While he urged the court to grant her bail in the interest of justice, the Lagos State government did not oppose the application for bail but urged the court to use its discretion.

Ibinabo Fiberesima was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice Deborah Oluwayemi of a Lagos State High Court in 2009.

The judge had held that her reckless driving was responsible for an auto crash, which claimed the life of one Dr. Giwa Suraj on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

Abike Dabiri, Diamond Bank To Settle Out Of Court

Diamond BankA former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Diamond Bank have opted for an out of court settlement in the suit she instituted against the bank.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa, had on August 6, 2015, filed a 500 million Naira suit ‎against the bank for publishing her name among the list of chronic debtors who have refused to liquidate their debts.

In the alleged malicious publication by Punch, the former lawmaker is said to be owing the bank about N122m.

Diamond Bank had published her picture as a Director of Thriller Endeavors, which she claims she has never heard of.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa insists that the publication is false and it has subjected her to public ridicule and embarrassment.

In a suit filed before a Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island, she also listed the Punch Newspapers Limited as the second defendant.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday before Justice Abdulfattah‎ Lawal, the counsel to Diamond Bank, Chuka Agbu SAN, told the court of the moves to settle the matter out of court.

He then urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable the parties conclude discussions on the process.

Outside the court, Counsel representing Punch Newspapers, Mr Clement Onwuenwunor, said that the paper is not part of the settlement talks as it has indemnity from the bank for its publication.

Counsel representing Mrs Dabiri-Erewa, Ademola Fadipe is however optimistic that the settlement talks will be agreeable to all parties.

Justice Lawal has adjourned the matter till March 10, for a report of the settlement.

 

Abike Dabiri Sues Diamond Bank, Punch Newspapers For Libel

Abike-dabiriA former member of the House of Representatives, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Thursday filed a libel suit against Diamond bank and The Punch Newspapers.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa told the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere that the bank and the newspaper wrongfully accused her of owing N122 million.

Diamond Bank on August 4, had published her picture as a Director of Thriller Endeavors, which she claims she has never heard off.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa is praying the court to compel the bank to publicly apologize and also pay damages running to N500 million.

“It cost me irreparable damage, it has totally embarassed me, i found it very very shocking and i just feel that the best thing to do is to seek legal redress in court.

“My lawyers are demanding for N500 million compensation from Diamond Bank and from The Punch Newspaper for doing that,” She said.

Two Juveniles On Death Row In Lagos Set Free

Death by hangingAfter spending 10 years in prison and 5 years on death row, the Court of Appeal in Lagos, on Thursday discharged and acquitted Sopuruchi Obed and Otobong Sunday Edet who were convicted and sentenced to death for armed robbery by the Lagos State High Court on 29 August 2009.

They were barely 17 years old when arrested on September 30, 2004 on allegations by Police at Igando police station that they were part of a group of young men seen by a police informant spending lavishly at a beer parlour, and overheard boasting of their unlawful escapades.

No one testified of being robbed by any of them. On those allegations, they were arrested, charged and eventually convicted.

Following the appeal against their conviction and sentence filed in 2011 by LEDAP – Legal Defence & Assistance Project, a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division unanimously allowed their separate appeals and set aside their conviction and sentence. The court resolved 2 out of 3 issues raised for determination in the appeal in their favour.

In particular, the court found that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were mere hearsay and that the vital evidence required to prove the charges were not provided by the prosecution. Moreso, at the time of the incident, Mr. Obed and Mr. Otobong were under-aged persons who ought to have been taken to Juvenile Court rather than a High Court. The justices of the Court of Appeal decried the High Court for not making detailed inquiry into the ages of the appellants.

Under the Nigerian law, persons under the age of 17 years have diminished criminal responsibility and those under the age of 18 years must be treated as children and only tried at the Family or juvenile courts in accordance with the Child Rights Act or Laws.

Incidents of charging and trying juveniles in adult courts are rampant in Nigeria, and there is little or no hesitation with many trial courts sentencing them to death, despite provisions of the law prohibiting sentencing persons under the age of 18 years, insane persons or pregnant women to death.

In a 2008 joint report by LEDAP and Amnesty International titled ‘Nigeria: Waiting for the hangman” it was reported that nearly 46 of the 1200 or so death row prisoners in the country’s 10 maximum security prisons could be children at the time the alleged offences were committed and at the time of their convictions. The situation remains the same today. Most of the condemned juveniles have been convicted based on questionable confessional statements obtained by the Police upon their arrests.

Commenting on the judgment today, and deprecating the continued use of death penalty in the country with its high risk of mistaken convictions, Mr. Chino Edmund Obiagwu, the lawyer to Mr. Obed and Mr. Otobong, said that “this case presents another opportunity for deep soul-searching by our criminal justice leaders and legislators on continued imposition of death sentences in the country with such imperfect criminal justice system, which range from poor police investigation to inefficient prosecution and unduly protracted trial processes. Nearly 7 out of every 10 death penalty appeals that LEDAP has handled in the last two years have resulted in the acquittal of the appellants, suggesting a very high rate of wrongful capital convictions.”

LEDAP called on the Nigerian Government to reconsider its stand on the use of capital punishment by abolishing the death penalty and replacing same with life imprisonment or other humane alternatives.

Court orders hospital to pay unlawfully dismissed HIV positive staff N7 million

A Lagos State High Court has awarded the sum of N7 million in favour of an HIV-infected woman, Mrs. Georgina Ahamefule, against a Lagos-based hospital, Imperial Medical Centre (IMC) and its Chief Medical Director, Dr. Alex Molokwu.

The judgment is coming 12 years after it was first filed on behalf of Mrs. Ahamefule by a non-governmental organisation, Social Economic Rights Action Centre (SERAC).

SERAC had filed the suit on the 14th of July, 2000 to contest the termination of Georgina Ahamefule’s employment as an auxiliary nurse by the Imperial Medical Centre and Dr. Molokwu on the grounds of her HIV status.

In her Statement of Claim, the applicant said she joined the IMC as an auxiliary nurse in 1989. She got pregnant in 1995 and developed boils on her skin. She consequently sought the medical attention of her employer Dr. Molokwu, who carried out medical examinations and diagnostic tests without disclosing the nature of the tests to her.

The doctor further referred Georgina for further testing to one Dr. Okanny at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital with a note in a sealed envelope.

Dr. Okanny himself carried out the tests without disclosing the nature of same to Mrs Ahamefule. She was however subsequently informed of her status while the IMC headed by Dr. Molokwu, promptly terminated her appointment.

She said she lost her pregnancy to miscarriage as a result of the trauma she underwent

The applicant claimed that she was never given any form of counseling before and after the tests and diagnoses were carried out on her as required by medical ethics.

This prompted her to seek the help of SERAC which filed the case on her behalf asking for a cumulative damages of N8 million for violation of her rights.

In the novel judgment, Justice Yetunde Idowu held “I hereby declare as follows: that the purported termination of the Plaintiff’s employment is illegal, unlawful and actuated by malice and extreme bad faith.

“That the Defendants’ action in denying the plaintiff medical care on grounds of her HIV status constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to health guaranteed under Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap. 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights”

The judge then went ahead to award Mrs Ahamefule N5 million damages for wrongful termination and N2 million damages as compensation for unlawful conduct of HIV testing without the plaintiff’s informed consent and for the defendants’ negligence”.

This happens to be the first case on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to be judicially determined in Nigeria.