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JUDICIARY

Court Nullifies Sections of CAMA 2020 for Infringing on Citizens’ Fundamental Rights

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A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja has nullified some sections of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 which were considered to infringe on the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizens.

Justice James Omotosho, who struck out the sections in a judgment, held that the plaintiff, Mr Emmanuel Ekpenyong, had a locus standi to institute the suit on the subject matter.

Report says that Ekpenyong, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, had in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1076/2020, sued the National Assembly, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Attorney-General for the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

In the originating summons dated and filed on Aug.

31, 2020, the lawyer prayed the court to determine whether he had the locus standi to institute the proceeding.

“Whether the provisions of Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, 845, 846, 847, 848 and 851 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act infringes on the plaintiff’s right to thought  conscience, and religion as enshrined in Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

Ekpenyong urged the court to further determine whether those sections infringed on his freedom of peaceful assembly and association as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

He also prayed the court to determine whether the provisions on the Administrative Proceeding Committee in Section 851 of CAMA, 2020 was inconsistent with the provisions of Section (6)(6)(b) and Sections 36(1) and 251(1) (e) of the 1999 Constitution.

He asked the court to determine whether the court had powers to grant mandatory injunctive reliefs against the defendants.

The lawyer, therefore, prayed the court to void the affected sections, having infringed on his fundamental human rights.

In a counter affidavit dated  and filed Jan  20, 2021 by counsel to the CAC, Olasoji Olowolafe, the commission decsribed the suit as “an abuse of judicial process.”

According to the commission, the action is academic  hypothetical and of no utilitarian value to the plaintiff.

CAC, which argued that the case was not backed by any credible evidence, prayed the court to dismiss it.

The National Assembly, in its preliminary objection, also contended that the suit was incompetent because pre-action notice was not served on them and that the plaintiff had no locus standi.

Besides, the AGF argued that the suit did not have a reasonable cause of action, while insisting that the plaintiff lacked locus to file the matter.

Ekpenyong, however, filed a reply on points of law, among others, to counter their arguments.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Omotosho held that under Article 3 (e) of the Preamble to the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, anyone could bring fundamental human rights matters on his own interest, on behalf of another person or even in public interest.

The judgment, which was delivered on Tuesday, was sighted on Friday by the press.

According to the judge, under the new human rights regime, a court shall not dismiss a human right action for mere want of locus standi.

He, therefore, held that the plaintiff in the case had locus to institute the suit.

Justice Omotosho held that the powers granted to CAC to regulate and administer Incorporated Trustees in Nigeria under Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, Section 845, Section 846, Section 847, Section 848 of the CAMA 2020 had infringed on Ekpenyong’s right to freedom of thoughts.

He also held that the sections infringed on the conscience and religion as enshrined under Section 38 of the constitution and freedom of peaceful assembly and association enshrined under Section 40 of the constitution and are therefore null and void.

He also held that the provisions of the Administrative Proceedings Committee in Section 851 of the new CAMA denied the plaintiff his constitutional rights of access to court in Sections 6 (6) (b) and Section 36 (1) of the constitution and also usurped the powers of the Federal High Court under Section 251 (1) (e) of the constitution.

The judge, consequently, struck down Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, 845, 846, 847, 848 and Section 851 of the CAMA 2020, declaring same to be null and void, having been inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.

The judge, however, agreed that since Ekpenyong did not serve the National Assembly with pre-action notice in line with Section 21 of the Legislative Houses Power and Privileges Act, the suit was incompetent against the legislative organ.

NAN had, on March 21, reported that Justice Inyang Ekwo of a sister court had retrained the CAC from suspending or appointing trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the churches.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in that judgment in a suit filed by the Registered Trustees of CAN, held that the provisions of Sections 17 (1), 839 (1) and (7) (a), 842 (1) and (2), 851 and 854 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 and Regulations 28, 29 and 30 of the Companies Regulations (CR), 2021 were not applicable to CAN, the churches and other religious body.(NAN)

JUDICIARY

Group Seeks Disciplinary Actions Against Lawyers Over Misconduct Towards Benue CJ, NJC.

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi 

A group known as Benue Arise Network, on Monday, called on the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA), to as a matter of urgency, institute disciplinary actions against the team of lawyers led by Uwem U. Umoanwan over their alleged infamous conduct against the Chief  Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese and the National Judicial Commission(NJC).

The publicity secretary of the group, Mr.

Joseph  Igbudu, in a statement he issued and made available to newsmen in Makurdi, their attention has been drawn to media reports on a suit by a group,Optimum Media Limited, seeking the court to compel the Governor of Benue State, Reverend Fr.
Hyacinth Alia, to request the Benue State House of Assembly to  investigate the Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese. 

Mr. Igbudu said, according to the report, the suit which is filed by a team of lawyers led by Uwem U. Umoanwan, Esq, is marked FHC/MKD/CS/56/2024, before the Federal High Court Makurdi Division. 

He stated that, it would be recalled that, on February 12, 2024, the Benue Arise Network(BAN), drew the attention of the world to a malicious, frivolous and ill-fated petition to the National Judicial Commission(NJC), by a group under the umbrella of Benue Diaspora Vanguard(US Chapter ), 

against Justice Ikpambese, dated November 30,2023, bordering on alleged judicial misconduct, gross disobedience of court judgment, abuse of power and financial mismanagement. 

Parts of the statement read: “We also informed the public that,same petition was served on the Governor of Benue State, calling on the governor to investigate the allegations against the Chief Judge of Benue State by the same group. 

“As expected, that petition was decided by the NJC, and it met it’s ill-fated status as it was dismissed. The NJC under the chairmanship of Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, at it’s plenary on May 15th, 2024 and May 16th, 2024, resolved all pending petitions/issues, and Justice Ikpambese was not amongst the three judges disciplined by the NJC. 

“These facts are still in public domain and can easily be verified by media reports or just by visiting the website of the NJC, njc.gov.ng

“We find it strange and  embarrassing on the integrity of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, that a lawyer will file a suit on issues already decided by the NJC. 

“Interestingly, the same petition dated November 30th, 2024, addressed to the NJC and was dismissed by the NJC is marked as Exhibit ‘A’, while the letter to the Governor, urging him to investigate the CJ of Benue State are annexed  and marked as  and Exhibit ‘B’ in the suit before the Federal High Court in Makurdi. 

“We wish to state that the lawyer who filed the suit praying the court to order the Governor of Benue State to request the Benue State House of Assembly to investigate the Chief Judge of Benue State ought to know as lawyers  that the disciplinary body for judges is the NJC and not the Governor of Benue State or the Benue State House of Assembly. 

“The team of lawyers led by Uwem U. Umoanwan ought to be  ministers in the temple of justice and should know the appropriate disciplinary body for judges. 

“It is our believe that the suit is accentuated by malice and the conduct of the lawyers is infamous and worthy of disciplinary actions”. 

The group  therefore called on the respective NBA branches of the affected  lawyers to sanction the affected lawyers. 

“We equally call on Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee(LPDC) of the NBA to immediately commence  disciplinary action against the team of lawyers that  filed Suit No:FHC/MKD/CS/56/2024, as the issues before the court have already been decided by the NJC. 

“If the plaintiffs/lawyers were not satisfied with the decision of the NJC, they would have taken the NJC to court and challenged the decision of the NJC and not urging the court to compel the governor to request the Benue State House of Assembly to investigate the CJ of Benue State. 

“The suit is also an invitation to a gross violation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which has already made provisions for the procedure for disciplining judges”. 

The Benue  Arise Network further cautioned those sponsoring attacks on Justice Ikpambese to desist from such as they are ready to mobilize spirited individuals and well-meaning citizens of Benue State and Nigerians to counter any plot against the CJ who has done nothing other than to offer meritorious service to the Nigerian judiciary and Nigeria as a nation. 

They however urged Justice Ikpambese not to be deterred or blackmailed to give into the whims and caprices of those who are bent on discrediting his hard-earned reputation and that of the Nigerian judiciary at large.

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JUDICIARY

Man, 24, Jailed 6 Months for allegedly Stealing Canned Beer, Drinks

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An Abeokuta Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 24-year-old man, Wisdom Emmanuel, to six months imprisonment for stealing canned beer and other soft drinks valued N216,000.

The convict, whose address was not provided, was convicted on a one-count charge of stealing.

The Magistrate, Mrs B.

V Williams held that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, while the defendant was guilty as charged.

She, however, sentenced Emmanuel to six months imprisonment without an option of fine.

Earlier, the Prosecution Counsel, Insp.Lawrence Olu-Balogun, told the court that the defendant committed the offence on May.

18 at about 2:30am at No 2 Olubara Road Housing Estate, Ibara in Abeokuta.

Olu-Balogun said that the convicts broke into the shop of one Mrs Taiwo Olayinka and stole different brands of can drinks, and cartons of Indomie

“Emmanuel entered the shop of the complainant at mid-night and stole one pack of canned Guinness valued N12,000, 12 pieces of Lord’s dry gin valued N18000, 12 pieces of canned Bullet valued N24,000.

“He also stole eight cartons of Indomie valued N64,000, five packs of Maltina valued N20,000, six pieces of Five Alive valued N18,000, six pieces of 33 canned beer valued N5000.

“12 pieces of Goldberg valued N12,000, twelve pieces of Legend Stout valued N12,000, two pieces of Coca-Cola valued N700, and a cash sum of N20,000 all valued N216,000,” he said.

He further explained that the convict was caught by the patrol team of the police, while some of the stolen items were recovered from him.

The prosecutor, however, said the offence contravened sections 383 and 390(9) of the Criminal Code Laws of Ogun 2006. (NAN) 

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JUDICIARY

Emirship tussle: Court rule against Kano govt, others challenging jurisdiction

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The Federal High Court sitting in Kano has on Thursday, ruled against Kano State government and others challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the issue of fundamental human rights instituted by a Kano traditional holder, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi in connection with the Emirship tussle.

Recall that the applicant, who is the traditional title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba of Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi had approached the court seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights claimed to have been violated by government action in the Emirship tussle.

The respondents in the suit are Kano State Government as 1st respondent, Kano State House of Assembly (2nd), Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly (3rd), Attorney General of Kano State (4th), Kano Commissioner of Police (5th), Inspector General of Police, IGP (6th), NSCDC and DSS as 7th and 8th respondents respectively.

Delivering the ruling on jurisdiction on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi M. Liman, ruled that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter concerning the applicant’s fundamental human rights.

Justice Liman gave the ruling relying on Section 42 sub-section 1 and Section 315 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

However, reacting to the ruling, the Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, said he will meet with his client to decide the next line of action whether or not they will take the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the judge, Justice Liman, adjourned the matter till Friday for hearing of all pending applications saying the case is too sensitive for it to be dragged for too long.

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