Thirty Eight legal luminaries among them, an Abuja-based lawyer, Paul Harris Ogbole and Professor Alubo of the University of Jos were on Monday administered to the revered rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN).
The ceremony held in the Supreme Court also coincided with the commencement of the 2019-2020 legal year.
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad in a speech at the occasion said the Nigerian judiciary would take decisions and conduct its affairs independently without any extraneous influence.
“At the Supreme Court, we are totally independent in the way we conduct our affairs, especially in our judgments, and we don’t pander to any body’s whims and caprices.
“The only deity to be feared is the Almighty God. We will never be subservient to anybody, no matter his position in the society,’’ he said.
Also, Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice in his speech said that the new legal year should be used to reflect on the achievements and limitations of the last legal year.
“It should be a time to draw up modalities on how best to foster the desired growth in our Judicial System, and affords the Bench and the Bar the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment towards upholding the canons of the rule of law by adherence and devoted practice of law and justice.
“This practice will go a long way to reinforce the commitment of the Judiciary in sustaining our democracy and in fostering the judiciary as the last hope of the common man’’.
Malami said his address should serve as a clarion call on the Court of Appeal and to the apex Court to be courageous in delivering landmark decisions in favour of justice, equity and fairness.
“The court should not be seen to bow to the pressures of different political actors, being the last hope of every litigant: irrespective of any irregularity that might have occurred in the course of dispensing justice by different election tribunals.
“It is important that this court as a final arbiter remains just and resolute in resolving all issues presented before it”.
He said in a deep reflection of the last legal year, it is worthy of note that administration of justice received boosts in the areas of Anti-Corruption Policy Drive.
“The drive successfully introduced zero tolerance to corrupt practices, and entrenched integrity and ethical conduct in the task of governance.
“Its federal government whistleblowing policy has yielded several Billions of Naira recovered from tax evaders and public officials.
“It has also led to the signing/ratification of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) that ensures transparency, accountability and the Promulgation of Executive Order 8 which is the Voluntary Offshore Regularization Scheme (VOARS).
Paul Usoro, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) while speaking, said that some members of the inner bar sometimes forget that the rank of SAN was best worn with humility.
“Humility in general terms exalts a person; it stands you out and elevates you, it is the humility in you that will oil your words and speeches in a way that makes them soothing and respectful to everyone.
“It is the humility in you that would persuade you to share your deserved front-row seats with members of the outer bar who are not entitled to the front row seats as of right when you are in court: but who are unfortunately consigned to stand in a crowded and sometimes, stuffy courtroom because all seats are occupied”.
He said that it is no longer news that some law enforcement agencies seem to derive sadistic pleasure in locking up lawyers and imposing impossible bail conditions for their release.
“The practice of law has consequently become very dangerous and risky, it is now being criminalised by these agencies, all in an effort to demonise and humiliate lawyers and the legal profession,” he said.(NAN)
Alleged N320m Fraud: Rep Mutu’s Defence Opening Suffers Setback
The plan by Rep Nicolas Mutu (Delta-PDP) to open his defence, on Wednesday, in the alleged N320 million money laundering charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) suffered setback at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The matter, which was listed as number one on the cause list before Justice Folashade Giwa-Ogunbanjo, could not proceed due to the Ill-health of Mutu’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN.
Reports says that the EFCC had, in the 13-count amended charge, sued Mutu along with Airworld Technologies Ltd and Oyien Homes Ltd as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
In the second amended charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/123/2019, dated Nov.22, 2021 and filed Nov. 23, 2021, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the counts.
Mutu waa alleged to have committed the alleged offences between Aug. 2014 and Aug. 2016 when he served as the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In the charge, he was accused of procuring “Airworld Technologies Ltd to conceal of the sum of N320,159, 689.63 to be paid by Starline Consultancy Services Ltd” when he ought to have known that the said sum formed part of proceeds of corruption, gratification and fraudulent acquisition of property.
When the matter was called on Wednesday, Mutu, who represents Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta was in court but his lawyer, Ikwueto, was conspicuously absent and no lawyer represented him in the courtroom.
However, counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, was in court.
The EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was scheduled for the defendants to enter their defence but that he was in receipt of a letter earlier in the morning from Ikwueto who had been appearing for Mutu and the 3rd defendant that he was indisposed.
Iheanacho said in the letter, a medical report from University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, was also attached.
The lawyer said Ikwueto, in the letter, sought an adjournment of the case and also for the court to vacate tomorrow (Feb. 22)’s date to enable him attend to his health.
Iheanacho said he would reluctantly conceded to adjournment on the ground of Ill-health.
He, however, felt bad that the two days scheduled for the trial would be vacated even when the court had deliberately listed only two matters on the course list to enable the case progress since the judge comes from outside jurisdiction.
Counsel for the 2nd defendant, J.O. Asoluga, SAN, said he had no objection to the application for adjournment.
Justice Giwa-Ogunbanjo consequently adjourned the matter until March 20 and March 21 for the defendants to open their defence.
Reports says that the judge had, on Jan. 22, fixed Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 for Mutu to open his defence after his no-case submission was dismissed by the court.
Giwa-Ogunbanjo, in a ruling, directed Mutu and his co-defendants to enter their defence as they have a case to answer in respect of the allegations made against them.(NAN)
Surety Faces N500,000 Bail Bond Forfeiture Charge
A 47-year-old man, Ogbonna Anoka, who allegedly stood surety for a church member, but failed to produce him in court as required, on Tuesday appeared before a Sabo-Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos.
Anoka, whose house address was not given, entered a ‘not-guilty’ plea to a charge of perversion of justice.
The Prosecutor, Insp.Magaji Haruna, told the court that Anoka committed the offence on Jan. 26, at the State Criminal Investigation Department, M.A.K Smith St., Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
Haruna alleged that the defendant conspired with one other person to obstruct and pervert the course of justice.
“The defendant stood as a surety for one Nonso Onyekwelu, a church member, who was involved in a case of conspiracy and receiving stolen property reported at the station.
“Onyekwelu was granted bail and released to the defendant, who promised to produce him at the station until the case is finally disposed off.
“The accused is hereby called upon to show cause why the sum of N500,000 bond executed by him should not be forfeited,” the prosecutor said.
The offence, Haruna said, contravenes Section 97 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Reports says that the Section 97 provides seven years imprisonment for perversion of justice, while sub section (3) provides two years imprisonment.
The Magistrate, Mrs O. Y. Adefope, granted bail to the accused in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum.
The case was adjourned until Feb. 21 for mention (NAN)
Court Discharges Sowore, Bakare, Orders DSS to Release Seized Items
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, discharged Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare of alleged treasonable felony charge by the Attorney-General.of the Federation (AGF), Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling after counsel for the AGF, A.R. Tahir, withdrew the charge, struck out the matter.
Justice Nwite also ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to immediately release three phones and the sum of N10, 000 seized from Sowore during his arrest.
The judge also ordered the DSS to release a phone belonging to Bakare and the sum of N1, 500 confiscated from him during his arrest.
Justice Nwite equally ordered that Sowore’s international passport be released.
The orders followed an application by lawyer to Sowore and Bakare, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, to tye effect.
Reports says that Sowore and Bakare were earlier arraigned before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu in 2019 before the matter was reassigned to Nwite.(NAN)
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