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JUDICIARY

Supreme Court Strikes out Perjury Suit Against Buhari

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The Supreme Court on Monday struck out the suit seeking the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election over alleged perjury.The suit was filed by Kalu  Kalu, Labaran Ismail and Hassy El-Kuris, all legal practitioners.Delivering judgment, the Justice Mary Odili-led panel of five justices held that the case was statute barred and therefore dismissed.

 News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the justices during the introduction of appearances wondered why Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, State Counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice will be representing a private individual.
 Abubakar had announced his appearance for the first respondent (General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) in the suit.
They warned him to desist from such act of using public office to defend a private litigation.Muhammad Dattijo, while addressing the counsel sited the President Bill Clinton’s numerous private cases while in the office.“Clinton in his numerous private litigation, he never used government organs but rather personally sponsored all his private cases,”.He warned that his actions contravene the Code of Conduct for public servants which has consequences.Odili in her judgment said, ‘the court notes the inappropriate appearance of Mr Abdullahi  Abubakar state counsel from the Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the first respondent Gen. Muhammad Buhari Rtd in his personal capacity.“This practice must be discouraged, appeal haven been withdrawn is hereby dismissed,”” Odili said.The juctices had warned AbubakarThe appellants grievances had arisen from the dismissal of their suit at the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on grounds that it was statute barred and as such could not be heard.They had approached the apex court to nullify the candidacy of President Buhari in the just concluded presidential poll over allegations of perjury.The appellants specifically wanted Buhari’s nomination and subsequent victory at the Feb. 23 presidential election nullified on the grounds that President Buhari lied on oath in his form 001 that he submitted to INEC for the purpose of clearance for the presidential election.They asked the apex court for an Order to set aside the judgment of the court of appeal and hear the matter on merit and grant the reliefs sought in the Originating Summons.Among the reliefs sought are a declaration that Buhari submitted false information regarding his qualification and certifcate to INEC for the purpose of contesting election into the office of the President of Nigeria and that he should be disqualified.They also prayed for an order of court directing INEC to remove Buhari’s name as a candidate of APC and another order restraining Buhari from parading himself as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election and also APC from recognising Buhari as a candidate.The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris, had on July 12, held that the singular fact that the suit was filed outside the 14 days provided by the law robbed the court of jurisdiction to entertain the it.The Federal High Court had in May declined to grant the request of the appellants on the grounds that the suit was not filed within the time allowed by law and therefore sustained the preliminary objection raised by Buhari at the hearing.The appellants had through their counsel, Ukpai Ukairo, presented 12 grounds for the setting aside of the judgment of the Court of Appeal, amongst which are;That the ”Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in relying on a Preliminary Objection withdrawn and struck out by the Court of Appeal in striking out and dismissing the appeal.“The Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law and breached the right of the appellants to fair hearing by relying on a preliminary objection, withdrawn by the 2nd Respondent and struck out by the Court, thus being a case not made out or relied upon or abandoned by a party in entering a decision in a judgment.“They erred in law in holding that ‘the failure of the Registrar to sign the Originating Summons is fatal and goes to the issue of jurisdiction’ and thereby struck out the Originating Summons.Also that “The Learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that delving into the other issues raised in the appeal will be regarded as an academic exercise as the case has been held to have been statute barred by virtue of Section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) 4th alteration and robs this court of its jurisdiction”.According to Ukairo, the appellants in the brief of argument distilled two issues for determination, (i). Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right in relying on the processes filed by the 1st defendant through a Law Officer in the Ministry of Justice?(ii).  Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right in holding that the suit was statute-barred by computing the number of days from Sept. 28, 2018 when the 2nd Respondent held its primary election wherein the 1st Respondent was elected as a candidate of the 2nd Respondent?The appellants had approached the appellate court to nullify and set aside the Judgment of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court which declined to hear their suit instituted to challenge the educational qualification of President Buhari before the conduct of the 2019 general election.But the appellate court in a judgement delivered held that the suit had been caught up by the Fourth Alteration to the 1999 Constitution which stipulate a 14 days time period within which an election matter must be filed.Though the appellate court agreed with the trial court that the suit was statute barred having filed out of time, it however disagreed with the trial court on the date the cause of action took place.Justice Ahmed Mohammed had in his judgment held that the cause of action took place on Sept. 28, 2018 when the APC held its primary election to select candidate of the party in the 2019 general election.But the appellate court however held that the cause of action took place on Oct. 18, 2018, the date Buhari submitted his form 001 to INEC for the purpose of clearance for the presidential election.The appellants had filed the suit on Nov.5, 2018, claiming October 25, the date INEC published the list of successful candidates in the 2019 general election as the date the cause of action arose, making the suit to be competent.The three man panel of the justices of the Court of Appeal had also dismissed the suit based on the preliminary objection filed by the APC’s lawyer challenging the jurisdiction of the suit on the grounds that it is incompetent.The justices held that the failure of the Registrar of the Federal High Court to transmit the record of proceedings was fatal to the originating summons and makes the suit incompetent.The decision had prompted the appellants to approach the apex court in their further quest for justice. (NAN)

JUDICIARY

Fake Abduction: Appeal Court Affirms Dethroned Traditional Ruler’s Conviction

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on Monday affirmed the conviction of the dethroned traditional ruler of Shangisha in Magodo, Mutiu Ogundare, for faking his own abduction.

The court, however, reduced Ogundare’s sentence to 12 years from the 15 years initially handed down on him by the lower court.

Report says that Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High in Ikeja, had on Sept.

27, 2022, sentenced the convict to 15 years imprisonment.

Ogundare was charged alongside his wife, Abolanle and his brother, Opeyemi Mohammed.

They were arraigned on three counts of breach of peace and fake abduction, preferred against them by the Lagos State government.

The lower court had discharged and acquitted Ogundare’s wife, Abolanle, saying that she had no link to the crime.

The court, however, found Ogundare and Mohammed guilty as charged.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Ogundare, approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision of the lower court.

When the case was called on Monday, the lead Justice, Justice Peter Bassi, upheld the judgment of the lower court in counts one and two and upturned count three.

Other Justices of the panel were Justice Bayero and Justice Folashade Ojo, who agreed with the judgment of the lead justice.

Bassi said that Ogundare’s appeal succeeds in part and reduced his sentence to 12 years.

The court held that the appellant would  serve 10 years imprisonment for count one and two years for count two.

On the third count, the court upturned the sentence of the lower court, in respect of false representation to release a kidnapped person.

The convict was first remanded on July 16, 2017, in Kirikiri correctional centre by an Ogba Magistrates’ Court, for alleged fake abduction.

The state had stated that the convicts committed the offences on July 5, 2017, along Centre for Management Development  Road, Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area.

The state said that Ogundare, staged the kidnap to blackmail the state government. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Court Orders Release of Ali Bello’s International Passport for Medical Trip Abroad 

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, ordered the release of the international passport of Ali Bello to enable him travel to the UK  for medical examination and consultation.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in a ruling on Bello’s motion on notice moved by his lawyer, Abubakar Aliyu, SAN, ordered the deputy chief registrar of the court to release his travel documents.

Justice Egwuatu directed Bello to return  the international passport to the deputy chief registrar of the court on or before Sept.

15.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed an alleged money laundering charge against Bello, Abba Adaudu, Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege and Iyadi Sadat as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.

Although they were arraigned before Justice Egwuatu, they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Bello, through his counsel, Aliyu, had, in the motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/573/2022, sought an order granting him the permission to travel to the UK for medical checkup.

In the application dated April 2 but filed April 5, the applicant sought two reliefs, including an order releasing his international passport in the custody of the deputy chief registrar of the court.

Bello said the purpose of the routine cardiologic follow-up was to review his medication and undergo cardiac tests scheduled for July of each year and as required based on medical advice.

He said the court had, on two occasions, granted him leave to travel between August 2023 and December 2023 and that he did travel and return the international passport to the deputy chief registrar of the court before the expiration of the times granted.

He, therefore, undertook to return the travel passport as he had always done  if leave is granted and upon his return.

He equally undertook to be law abiding in the UK should his application be granted.

But in opposition, the EFCC filed a counter affidavit of five-paragraphs deposed to by Abubakar Salihu Wara on April 19, 2024.

Mr Rotimi Oyedepo SAN, lead counsel to the the anti-graft agency, argued that Bello had not placed any medical report before the court to show the health condition that necessitated the medical appointment.

Oyedepo said that Exhibit ‘A’ attached to the application did not disclose the email address of the sender and the receiver of the said medical appointment and had not exhibited anything to show that Exhibit ‘A’ emanated from London Centre for Advanced Cardiology.

He argued that Bello might tamper with the evidence in the charges against him if the application is granted.

But Bello, in a further affidavit, disagreed with the EFCC’s submission.

Delivering the ruling, the judge asked if Bello had placed enough material before the court to enable the court grant the application.

According to Justice Egwuatu, it is on record that this court granted bail to the applicant.

“Since the grant of bail, he has not breached the terms of bail and has been coming to court to stand his trial.

“It is not controverted that this court had on two previous occasions granted the applicant similar prayers.

“On those two occasions, that is, between the 1st to 31st of August, 2023 and 17th of December, 2023 and 10th January, 2024, the applicant did not breach the terms of the permission granted.

“Applicant’s depositions that ‘on the two occasions, I returned my International Passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar of this court was not denied by the respondent (EFCC).

“There is no evidence before this court that the applicant breached the terms of the grant or the terms of the bail granted to him by this court.

“The grounds for opposing this application now by the prosecution are anchored on Paragraphs 4 (a) to (g) of the counter affidavit.

“I have examined these paragraphs vis-a-vis the response of the applicant,” he said.

The judge said that there was no evidence before the court by the EFCC that the name of the London hospital “and address are not in existence and no contrary evidence disputing the fact that the applicant has a scheduled appointment with the said cardiologist.”

According to him, there is also no evidence before this court that the applicant while on bail did or attempted to interfere with evidence or collude with any person to tamper with evidence.

“The law is trite and clear: facts not disputed or challenged are deemed to have been accepted and/or admitted by the party against whom they are averred.”

“I therefore believe the depositions of the applicant,” the judge said.

Justice Egwuatu further said that a defendant ought to be healthy to be able to stand the rigors of trial.

“It has to be noted that the health of every citizen is very important consideration to the state, whether he is a defendant/suspect or a free man.

“I wholeheartedly subscribe to the view that a defendant should be alive to stand trial and face the just desserts of his crime if he is adjudged guilty as charged.

“As stated by Obadina JCA in Ani vs. State (2002) 11 WRN 53 at 68:’..it is only the living that can praise God, so also it is only the living that can be tried, convicted and punished for an offence..” he quoted.

The judge subsequently granted Bello’s prayers being sought.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

S/Court Judgement: Jigawa Assembly Begins Amendment of Electoral Law

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A bill seeking to repeal the Jigawa State Independent Electoral Commission (JISIEC) Law 2024 and re-enact Law 2012 has passed first and second readings.

This followed a motion moved by the Majority Leader of Jigawa State House of Assembly, Mr Lawan Muhammad (APC-Roni) and seconded by Mr Muhammad Inuwa (APC-Kazaure) at a plenary on Friday.

Muhammmad said the bill seeks to repeal the JISEIC amendment No.

1 Law, No.
7, 2024 to re-enact the provisions of Sections 64 and 65 of the JISEIC Law Cap J19, Laws of Jigawa State 2022 and for related matters.

The Speaker, Mr Haruna Aliyu, who presided over the plenary, asked the majority leader to suspend order 12 and rule 81 for the bill to be read for the second time.

After unanimous approval by the members, Muhammad read the bill for the second time, which was seconded by the speaker.

On the reason for the amendment, the Majority Leader said: “Just of recent, this honorable house amended this law to be in line with the electoral act, 2023. We amended this section in order to domesticate the electoral act.

“So we are now going back to previous bill that we have repealed and suspended. That’s the reason for the suspension of the rule 81. So we are going back to the previous law that we suspended just two months ago.

“This is also because of current order or Supreme Court judgement on local government councils. Therefore I moved this motion so that honorable members be in line with the court judgement to allow us conduct local government election in the next two months.

“I want my colleagues to be supportive to join our colleagues in the 36 states”.

Contributing, members representing Kaugama and Kazaure constituencies, Sani and Muhammad Inuwa, expressed the need for other members to support the amendment in order to have democratically elected officials to run the affairs of the local government councils of the state.

After unanimous approval by the house, the speaker referred the bill to Committee on Local Government and to report back on July 30. (NAN)

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