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JUDICIARY

UPDATED-Court to Rule on Nnamdi Kanu’s Bail Plea, Preliminary Objection March 19

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, fixed March 19 for ruling on the bail application filed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Justice Binta Nyako will, also on the same date, rule on a notice of preliminary objection filed by Kanu praying the court not to allow his trial until certain conditions were met by the Federal Government.

Justice Nyako fixed the date after the new counsel for the Federal Government, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, and Kanu’s lawyer, Alloy Ejimakor, adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the motions.

Reports says that the IPOB leader was initially standing trial on a 15-count charge bordering on terrorism offences before eight of the counts were quashed by the trial judge leaving seven counts, and the Supreme Court, on Dec.

15, 2023, affirmed the lower court decision.

When the matter was called on Monday, Awomolo told Justice Nyako that the case was coming up for hearing after the decision of the Supreme Court on Dec. 15, 2023.

Awomolo said the apex court affirmed Nyako’s decision of April 8, 2022, by preserving counts one, two, three, four, five, eight and 15 of the charge which Kanu pleaded not guilty of.

The senior lawyer said that the Supreme Court ordered the continuation of trial of Kanu on the remaining seven counts.

“So we are ready to proceed with the hearing of this matter and it is in the defendant’s interest and everybody’s interest in this country to see to the end of the trial” he said.

But Counsel to Kanu, Ejimakor, told the court that he had two motions; an application for bail and a preliminary objection.

He said though he agreed that the Supreme Court directed the continuation of Kanu’s trial, they were not ready to continue the proceedings.

He urged the court to take his client’s bail application and preliminary objection for court to decide whichever way, and the prosecution did not object.

While given grounds why the bail plea should be granted, Ejimakor said Kanu currently suffered from life-threatening and serious health conditions.

According to the lawyer, Kanu has heart disease, hypertension and dangerous potassium levels that pose daily risks to his life while in detention.

He argued that the DSS had no standard medical facility that could treat the defendant but was only subjected to cell-grade medical treatment, which did not abate his conduction but instead worsened it.

He urged the court to grant the bail request on most liberal terms to enable the IPOB leader seek better medical care he urgently requires.

He said though Section 161 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, raised three conditions for bail to be satisfied, Kanu had met those terms, including ill-health, delayed proceedings and not being given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.

Ejimakor alleged that the prosecution, since Kanu’s arrest and arraignment, had delayed the proceedings for several months through amendment of charges and adjournments

He also argued that he might not be able to put up a good defence unless Kanu was admitted to bail to have unfettered access to his lawyers.

Contrary to the prosecution’s counter affidavit that Kanu jumped bail, the lawyer argued that Kanu only fled for his dear life when his residence was attacked by security agents and that as far back as October 2018, he deposed to an affidavit to explain the circumstances.

But Awomolo disagreed with Ejimakor, insisting that the defendant violated the bail conditions, jumped bail and fled the country,.

He said there was no evidence before the court that if granted another bail, he would not jumped bail, urging the court to dismiss the application.

The senior lawyer said Kanu’s failure to prove that there was no standard medical facility in Department of State Service (DSS)’ detention contradicted Section 161(2a) of ACJA.

“So he has not been able to satisfied Section 161(2a),”:he said.

He argued that the IPOB leader had not tendered anything tangible or extraordinary to show he was entitled to bail.

On the delayed proceedings, Awomolo said the court itself observed that both parties were responsible.

The lawyer, who argued that the Supreme Court had settled issues about Kanu’s rendition, said other judgments in favour of the IPOB leader were only persuasive, and not binding on Justice Nyako.

On the preliminary objection, Ejimakor said the application prayed for an order that before any proceeding could commence in the trial, the Federal Government must cease and desist from certain conducts.

He said these include seizure of documents of his lawyers, stopping his lawyers from taking notes during visitation, and eavesdropping on Kanu’s consultation with lawyers on matters pertaining to his defence,

He also sought an alternative order that before commencement of trial, a non-custodial arrangement be made so as to afford Kanu adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.

But Awomolo, who opposed the application, described it as an abuse of court process.

He argued that a party cannot dictate to court how to conduct its proceedings.

He said it was an insult to the court for a party to dictate that unless the detaining authority acts in certain ways, trial should not commence.

The lawyer, who said that the prosecution had never breached the fundamental rights of the IPOB leader, urged the court to dismiss the application.

Justice Nyako adjourned the matter until March 19 for ruling and trial commencement for March 20.(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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