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JUDICIARY

Court Strikes Out N1bn Suit Against Ex-minister, 3 Others

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Federal Capital Territory High Court
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A FCT High Court sitting in Kubwa has struck out the one-billion-naira suit brought against a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, while he was in office.

Also sued was a civil servant, Ms Asabe Waziri and two others – the office of the former minister and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The suit was brought against the former minister in his personal capacity along with Waziri and the two others by an Abuja-based property developer, Mr Cecil Osakwe.

But Justice Oluyemisi Adelaja on Thursday struck out the matter, citing lack of diligent prosecution by Osakwe.

“The claimant is the one who filed the action and is required to be seen diligently prosecuting same but they are not in court and there is no reason for their absence before the court.

“They have, therefore, been absent without reason and consequent upon Order 32 Rule 4, this case is ordered struck out for want of diligent prosecution,’’ Adelaja ordered.

It will be recalled that in June 2022, the Federal Government had filed a two-count charge with suit number: FCT/HC/CR/244/2022, against Osakwe for advance fee fraud to the tune of N130 million.

The suit also alleged criminal intimidation of Waziri, a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, saying that Osakwe had threatened Waziri with injury to her person and reputation with intent to cause her harm and even death.

Waziri was said to have purchased a two-bed property from Osakwe to the tune of N130 million at Maitama, an up-market district of the FCT.

Following the two-count charge against Osakwe, he proceeded to file a lawsuit against the erstwhile attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.

Others joined in the suit included the Federal Ministry of Justice and Waziri.

Through his Counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, Osakwe sought reliefs, including an order directing Malami to pay the sum of one billion naira to him as punitive damage.
The developer also sought an order directing the defendants to pay jointly and severally, the sum of one hundred million naira to him as general damages. (NAN)

JUDICIARY

Absence of AGF Stalls Arraignment of Alleged killers of Imo Traditional Ruler

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The absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF) in court on Monday, stalled the arraignment of four suspects alleged to have kidnapped and killed the traditional ruler of Amanze-Obowo autonomous community in Imo, Mr Basil Njoku.

When the matter was called, the  four suspects and their counsel were present in court but there was no representation from the office of the AGF who had on the last adjourned date, announced that he was taking over prosecution of the case.

The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako then shifted hearing in the matter until noon but there was still no representation by the AGF or his representative.

The situation prompted the judge to invite the lawyers of the defendants into her chambers.

She then adjourned the matter until April 30 and ordered that fresh hearing notice be served on the AGF.

The lead counsel to the suspects, Mr Solomon Akuma, SAN had applied that the case be dismissed, but the judge opted to give the AGF another chance to lead a diligent prosecution.

The four suspects are Jude Iheme, Chika Madukwe, Nwokorie  Ejike and Victor Obumneke.

The three counts earlier slammed against them had been increased to five in an amended charge.

On the last adjourned date, the AGF represented by Mr David Kaswe had taken over prosecution of the case from the Inspector- General of Police who initially filed the charge.

Kaswe told the judge that the AGF invoked Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 105 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA)  to take over trial of the case.

Reports says that Iheme, 52 years old of Amagwu Amanze Obowo Local Government Area of Imo and Madukwe, 42 years old of Ndi-Uche Etiti Omuimo Local government Area also of Imo, were said to have killed the traditional ruler on Dec.17, 2022.

The suspects were accused of killing the monarch while he was coming from the Federal Medical Center, Umuahia, after kidnapping and collecting a ransom of N4 million from his family.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/575/2024, Iheme and Madukwe alongside others said to be at large were said to have conspired to commit felony to wit, acts of terrorism contrary to Section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.

The other suspects were  accused  of failing to volunteer information at their disposal to security agencies which could have led to the apprehension of other kidnappers contrary to Section 16 of the same Terrorism Act.

The charge read in part;  “That you Nwokorie  Ejike, 45 years ago and Victor Obumneke, 39 years all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo  between June to August 2023 at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical  Squad, Abuja during the police investigation of the offence of kidnapping and terrorism of  Eze, Basil Njoku conspired and brought false accusations with intent to cause Nwigwe Williams to be charged with kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku.

“You thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 125 of the Criminal Code Act.

“That you Nwokorie  Ejike, 45 years  and Victor  Obumneke, 39 years all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo  between June to August 2023 at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical  Squad, Abuja with intent to mislead the police investigators in the case of kidnap and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, you gave false information to the investigators that a drunk man informed you that Nwigwe  Williams is responsible for the kidnap and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku knowing or having reason to know that information you gave to police investigators is false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 125 of the Criminal Code Act 2004.

“That you Nwokorie  Ejike, 45 years ago and Victor Obumneke, 39 years all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo  between June to August 2023 at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical  Squad, Abuja during the police investigation of offence of kidnapping and terrorism of Eze, Basil Njoku conspired and brought false accusations with internt to cause Nwigwe Emeka Williams to be charged with kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 125 of the Criminal Code Act.” (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Adjourns Business Mogul, Ibeto’s Trial Until May 27

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An Ikeja High Court has adjourned the trial of Chairman of Ibeto Energy Development Company, Chief Cletus Ibeto who was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged N4.8 billion fraud, until May 27.

Reports says that Justice Oyindamola Ogala adjourned further hearing in the suit pending the Court of Appeal judgment in an appeal filed by Ibeto on the ruling of by Justice Ismail Ijelu of Ikeja High Court.

The judge had issued bench warrant against the businessman pending arraignment.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Ibeto filed an appeal through Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), challenging the jurisdiction of the high court to hear the matter.

When the case was called on Monday, the Defence Counsel, Mr Adebayo Oshodi prayed the court to withdraw the application for stayed of proceeding pending appeal and the one challenging court jurisdiction which was earlier filed by Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN).

Oshodi also told court that he had filed notice of preliminary objection dated January 26, challenging the jurisdiction and prayed the court to allow him move the application.

However, the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs , SAN, opposed the application on the grounds that Ibeto had filed an appeal on same issue before the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal, adding that the appellate was yet to decide on it.

Jacobs cited the provision of section 274 of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2021 and argued that the court could not entertain the application because the defendant had not submitted himself for trial.

The prosecutor also informed the court that the defendant in his move for out of court settlement, had repaid the commission a total sum of N2 billion in installments.

After listening to the both parties, Ogala ruled that hearing the defendant’s application would amount to nothing because the same issue was currently pending before the appellate court.

She said that it would be to better for the court to await Court of Appeal’s verdict on the matter before taking any further step on on the trial.

“There is nothing stopping me to hear it in a hurry but the defendant is not here.

“The court of appeal will sit on it.

“I will not waste time writing ruling while the case is still pending in Appeal Court and if there is nothing in court of appeal, I would have hear the application,” the judge said.

Reports says that EFCC had filed a 10-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, forgery and fraudulent use of documents against the defendant and he has not appear before the court to take his plea.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has fixed May 7 for hearing of the appeal.

Ogala thereafter adjourned to May 27 and directed that the parties to notify the court on the outcome of appeal court. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Gives DSS go-ahead to Detain Nigerian Link to ISIS for 60 Days

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, granted an interim order sought by the Department of State Service (DSS) to detain Emmanuel Osase, a Nigerian suspected to be a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for 60 days.

Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order after counsel for the DSS, A.

A. Ugee, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.

When the matter was called, Ugee informed the court of the application.

He said the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/409/2024 was brought pursuant to Section 66(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

He prayed the court for an order enabling the security outfit to detain Osase for 60 days pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Justice Ekwo, who granted the application, adjourned until June 3 for report

Reports says that Osase, who was arrested on March 11, was accused of propagating the messages of the terrorist group, opposing democratic system of government in Nigeria and calling for terrorists attacks on Nigeria and it symbols of sovereignty.

In affidavit dated March 27 and deposed to by Ahmad Abubakar, a DSS operative, attached to the Legal Service Department, National Headquarters, Abuja, he averred that the release of the suspect could jeopardise investigation.

He said that Osase was arrested by a team of DSS “for alleged membership and propagation of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist messages, including opposition to Democratic System of Government and the call for staging terrorists attacks against Nigeria State and its symbols of sovereignty;”

Abubakar stated that Osase was jailed five years for terrorism-related offences in France and was deported after the completion of his sentence.

He said that from the service’s preliminary investigation, Osase, who is an ex-convict, still engaged in terrorist activities which previously led to his conviction in France.

He said Osase appeared not to have renounced his terrorist ideologies, “as he continues to engage with the proscribed pro-ISIS online media group known as al-Alawn Media Foundation, whose main objectives is the creation and dissemination of terrorist content and the promotion of terrorist attacks against democratic systems of government such as Nigeria and the western governments, including their interests across the globe.”

He said the suspect, who was born in the Federal Capital Territory, “left Nigeria for France and never returned to Nigeria until his deportation after completion of five years jail term for acts of terrorism and attempt to join the Islamic State (IS) linked terrorist group, Friqat Al-Ghuraba (Group of Foreigners) in Syria.”

Abubakar said his activities constituted a potent threat to national security and corporate existence of Nigeria.

He said there was need for a thorough investigation of the suspect to ensure that he did not pose any security threat to Nigeria or the world at large.

According to him, the respondent is helping with vital Information that will lead to the arrest of other members who are still at large.

He said it would be in the interest of justice and national security to grant the application.(NAN)

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