Month: April 2019

Presidency Condemns Execution Of Nigerian In Saudi, 20 More On Death Row

Following the execution of a Nigerian woman on Monday in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences, the presidency has described the execution as pathetic and tragic.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who disclosed this to State House correspondents, said she will be the eighth Nigerian to be executed in Saudi Arabia for drug-related offences in the last three years.

According to him, there are 20 more on death row for the same offence, 12 have been sentenced for various jail terms in that country.

She said it has been established that there are cases of airlines working hand-in-hand with drug syndicates to put those drugs in the bags of unsuspecting pilgrims.

She said, “so we have had cases where truly they didn’t commit the offence. We have appealed to the Saudi Authorities to make the trials fair, open and ensure that justice is done. Even if you are going to die, you will know that you die for an offence you committed.

“So, while we appeal to Nigerians going to Saudi Arabia, we know it is tough, obey the laws of the land. Even kolanut is treated as a drug. So we will continue to appeal to the Saudi Authorities to treat some of the cases with some form of leniency.

Like I said, we have 20 of them in Saudi, this is the eighth to be executed and we are hopeful that maybe we will be able to save the others. So, it is pathetic, it is tragic but we will continue to appeal to Nigerians to obey the laws of the land where you are. However, we expect the trial to be fair, open and ensure that justice truly is done because somebody is sentenced to death.”

She also described as disgraceful the arrest of five Nigerians, for allegedly robbing a bureau de change in Sharjah of Dh2.3 million.

Dabiri-Erewa said the men were a disgrace and an embarrassment to the country, themselves and their families.

She listed their names as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozo, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Nwonka, Tochukwu Leonard Arise, and Chile Micah Ndumodu.

“These five boys are a disgrace to this country and an embarrassment. So if UAE decides to be hard on Nigerians then we will complain that they are hard on us. But we will continue to say that one bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch. Nigerians are hardworking, intelligent so these few should not spoil the whole bunch because this has made news all over the UAE now.

“We are going to continue to name those who disgrace the country anywhere in the world and we will continue to appeal to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they find themselves.”

On efforts being made to educate pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia following the connivance of some airlines with drugs syndicates, Dabiri-Erewa, said, “Since this law came into force where you ensure baggage are identified, it has reduced. The case I am talking about happened between 2016-2017. So it is important you identify your bags, take responsibility for your luggage. The Hajj Commission is also working with these airlines to ensure this is done because we do not want an innocent person to be jailed for an offence he or she did not commit.

Asked if the Nigerian government is going to write a letter of protests to the Saudi Arabia authorities, the presidential aide said, “we have been doing that. The Nigerian consulate in Saudi Arabia has been talking to Saudi Arabia authorities but I think we need to take it to a higher level now, I mean with 20 on death row, this is the eighth to be killed, we need to engage with the Saudi Arabia authorities more than we have done in the past. With 20 Nigerians on death row, we may be able to save those who did not carry out the crime.

We know that drug issues in Saudi Arabia carry the death penalty, but we will continue to ensure that we intervene properly on behalf of all our citizens to be sure that at least justice has been done.”

After ACJA, experts push for more funding in prosecutions

Nigerian criminal prosecutors rose from a two-day conference in Abuja last week with a call for the adoption of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) across the 36 states of the Federation, and more funding for the justice sector.

With the proscription of lay prosecutors by the ACJA under sections 104 and 106, only lawyers serving with various government prosecuting agencies can prosecute criminal charges against suspected offenders.

Thus, the National Association of Prosecutors, which has become a strong vehicle for strengthening of criminal prosecutions in Nigeria, agreed that adoption of the law across aboard and provision of more funding will enhance the Nigerian justice system.

The decisions were reached at the 5th National Summit on Effective Prosecution of Criminals in Nigeria, which held at the Ministry of Justice in Abuja, organised by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP).

Apart from funding, prosecutors also want the Federal Government and states to revisit the autonomy for the office of the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Ministry of Justice.

The Executive Director of LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu (SAN) said the reform will take criminal prosecutions to the 1963 Constitution, where the office of the “DPP was removed from the Ministry of Justice and can initiate and prosecute cases”.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), called on the remaining 16 states out of 36 and the FCT to urgently adopt the ACJA to create room for uniform best practices and in the states.

The AGF, who was represented by an official of the ministry, Yusuf Abdullahi, said that will help collectively address policy or administrative challenges which could arise from the Act.

In his presentation, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) went down memory lane on the improvements brought to the criminal justice system by the provisions on the ACJA.

Akinseye-George listed some of the practices that existed among lawyers before the coming of the Act to include: filing of preliminary objections, interlocutory appeal after ruling, application for grant of stay of proceedings and other delay tactics.

“The Act applies all criminal trials for offences punishable in the Federal Capital Territory and other offences established or created by an Act of the National Assembly. There is no territorial limit to the applicability of the ACJA. It applies all over the country where offences created by Acts of the National Assembly are enforceable by both federal courts and state courts,” he said.

“The ACJA also applies uniformly across the entire length and breadth of the country where law enforcement agencies established by the Constitution or Acts of the National Assembly are competent to operate.”

Prof Akinseye-George, who played a major role in the formulation of the Act, however said to achieve the objective of the Act, the Federal Government should provide better working tools for judges and prosecutors. He also advocated increase in salaries and allowances for judges.

In his speech, human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) said the country should adopt the practice in other countries where lawyers who take cases to court without strong case are penalised.

“In many jurisdictions around the world, lawyers and litigants are penalised where it is evident that the time of the court and the resources of the state have been wasted through the filing of frivolous applications that are deliberately meant to delay trial,” he said.

To address prolonged trials, President of the Pan African Lawyers Union, Chief Emeka Obegolu, called for the use of more plea bargain as envisaged under the ACJA beyond the conventional practice of financial crimes with politically exposed persons but to also defendants in violent crimes such as terrorism, rape and armed robbery.

Presenting a paper titled ‘The Instrumentality of Plea Bargain in Enhancing Speedy Dispensation of Justice,’ he asked prosecutors to note the provision in Section 1 of the Act as follows: “The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the system of administration of criminal Justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, protection of the society from crime, and protection of rights and interests of the suspect, the defendant and the victim” and give true meaning to the purpose of the Act.”

Three policemen sentenced to death for kidnapping

An Akwa Ibom State High Court Uyo, presided by Justice Joy Unwana (extended jurisdiction) has handed down death sentence to seven people, including three policemen for kidnapping.

The other 4 convicts include a woman hired by the gang for N50,000 to cook for the victim – Deaconess Ime Anietie Ekanem, while they negotiated for her ransom.

The state instituted Suit No HU/13c/2012 against 8 members of the gang in 2012.

They are: CPL Emmanuel Charlie, Ekaette Edet Moses, Fidelis Emmanson Jeremiah, Cpl Bassey Sunday (377812), PC Mfon Bassey (478463), Ndu Okon Johnny, Unyime Edem Etukakpan, and Itohowo Godwin Akpakwa.

They were convicted on all 3 count charges of Conspiracy to commit felony, Kidnapping, and Counseling, aiding and Sponsoring kidnapping.

According to the confessional statement of the 8th accused, Mrs Itohowo Akpakwa, which was admitted as exhibit, she confessed to visiting her friend in a Bar at Idakeyop Aka where she gave the 7th accused – Unyime Edem Etukakpan money to buy medicine for his ill health.

Though Akpakwa denied knowledge of the plot to kidnap her friend and neighbor, no fewer than 3 other members of the gang told court that they did not know her name at the time she visited the final meeting at Aka.

They insisted that she was the one who identified her friend and gave direction to her house in Obio Etoi village, Uyo.

It was learnt that the victim was dragged out of the Toyota Sienna Car driven by the husband, in front of the family house at about 6:30 p.m. and whisked away in a Volvo Wagon Car to Afaha Udoeyop in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA where she was kept, under armed guards, in an isolated building pending agreement and payment of Ransom.

The anti-kidnapping unit of the state CID swung into action as telephone negotiations between the kidnappers and the victim’s husband brought down the initial demand from more than twenty million naira (N20m) to about N1.8 million to be paid on 2 installments.

Plain clothed operatives of the State CID were shocked to discover that the first 2persons who approached the Afaha Ibesikpo Market square venue for the ransom delivery were their colleagues at the state CID. Shortly after the encounter, the change in venue for delivery of the ransom was relayed to the husband of the victim by phone.

Police investigation report, indicated that after changing venue thrice, the first instalment of N800,000 was delivered at Itam, in another LGA.

From the totality of evidence before the Court, it was observed that the gang might have gotten away with the crime had the proceed been equitably shared.

It was also revealed that serious disagreement in the sharing formula led to friction.

Consequently, a member of the gang, who at the time of sharing, was in the Uyo Prison on a different criminal matter, returned home to discover that he was short changed.

He then  gave details of the plot and how it was carried out to the police, and later became the star witness for the state.

The 8th and only accused who escaped the capital punishment, Mrs Itohowo Akpakwa – a staff of the University of Uyo, was earlier granted bail.

Samuel Ikpo Esq of counsel to Mrs Akpakwa had insisted that there was no reason his client should languish in prison when there is no direct evidence linking her to the commission of the alleged crime.

Her bail was secured when Ikpo successfully argued that in the absence of a prima facie evidence against his client, it became baseless and punitive to curtail her freedom.

In spite of persistent argument to the contrary by Eyo Asuquo Esq for state, insisting that Mrs Akpakwa is the ‘woman’ mentioned by other suspects, the court was not persuaded, and therefore had no grounds to deny her bail.

Reviewing arguments on both side, the court noted that evidence of most suspects was that the woman who attended their meeting at Aka before the kidnap operation was the one who identified the victim, and also supplied information about her residence and movement.

It noted that 2 state witnesses (policemen) also confirmed to court that they heard from suspects that the 8th accused supplied information and also identified the victim.

Justice (Mrs.) Joy Unwana echoed the position of Samuel Ikpo who pointed out that hearsay evidence by state witnesses must not only be discountenance, but that of other suspects who did not mention the name of his client.

Furthermore, the court was convinced by his position that in the failure of police to conduct Identification Parade to give other suspects the opportunity to identify the ‘woman’ they allegedly saw, his client cannot be declared as the ‘woman’ in question.

The court was of the view that there were no grounds to convict Mrs Akpakwa, and accordingly discharged and acquitted her.

On the other hand, convinced that the state has successfully proven beyond reasonable doubt, the 3 count charges, the other 7 were convicted. (The Nation)

Source News Express

Court convicts Nigerian activist ‘I G Wala’ for criminal defamation, others

Justice Yusuf Halilu of FCT High Court in Maitama found Mr Wala guilty on three out of the four charges filed against him by the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The three charges for which he was found guilty include unlawful assembly, public incitement and criminal defamation of character.

The judge, however, dismissed the charge of criminal intimidation for lack of merit.

The activist was arraigned following a petition filed by the chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mukhtar, alleging that Mr Wala uses his Facebook page to incite the public against him and defame his integrity and that of the commission he heads.

On the charge of unlawful assembly, Mr Wala was found guilty of using his organisation, the Citizens Action To Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), to form an unlawful assembly. The judge ruled that the organisation was unregistered.

The judge said the prosecution “has been able to establish the offense of making an unlawful assembly.”

The judge also found Mr Wala guilty of public incitement, an offense contrary to section 114 of the penal code which deals with the breach of public peace.

Mr Yusuf also agreed with the prosecution that Mr Wala criminally defamed the chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Mohammed, after he alleged that the NAHCON boss “made N3 billion for himself” from the 2017 Hajj operations.

The judge said Mr Wala wrote on his Facebook page that he has documents to prove the allegation.

He, however, said the activist failed to provide the document to prove his claims in court.

“Where is the document proving N3 billion made by chairman hajj commission?

“Why has the accused person failed to tender such document now that he has been dragged before a court of law?” the judge said.

He said by his inability to provide relevant documents to prove his ‘huge allegations’, Mr Wala “has made the case of the prosecution less cumbersome”.

The judge will announce sentencing later today.

Mr Wala has led protests against issues like corruption and human rights violations in several parts of the country.

‘Ebola’ allegedly beats woman into coma

A traditional boxer, Abdur-Rasaq, popularly called ‘Ebola’ on Wednesday appeared in a Chief Magistrates’ Court I, sitting at Chediya, GRA Zaria, Kaduna State, for allegedly beating up a woman till she fell into a coma.

Abdur-Rasaq, 24, who resides at Kawo area of Kaduna is charged with assault and causing grievous hurt.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Mansir told the court that Ebola beat up one Farida to a state of coma at Gidan Dambe, Sabongari, Zaria on March 23.

Mansir said after the police got the information from a “Good Samaritan”, who on reaching the scene around 9:00 p.m., Farida was found unconscious and was immediately rushed to a hospital for medical attention.

The prosecutor added that Farida was unconscious for two days before regaining consciousness.

He said the accused was charged for causing grievous hurt contrary to section 224 of criminal procedure code of Kaduna State.

However, Counsel to the accused, Gabriel Attah, filed a formal application for bail.

The judge, Chief Magistrate Abubakar Aliyu-Lamido admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N1 million with one surety in the sum of N500,000.

Aliyu-Lamido adjourned the case until April 17 for further mentioning.

Source: Punchng.com

LEDAP COMMENDS LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT FOR ITSEFFECTIVE USE OF PLEA BARGAINING IN CRIMINAL CASES

18th April 2019The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) commends the Lagos State Government for its effective use of plea bargaining in criminal cases following the release of Janet James from the Kirikiri Female Prison.

After 10years on awaiting trial, Janet James who was represented by LEDAP under its rule of law and access to justice programme aimed at providing pro bono service for indigent persons, regains her freedom following a plea bargaining agreement which reduced her charge of Murder to Manslaughter with a proposed jail term of 14years from the date of remand.

According to a charge dated the 21st August 2009, Janet James was arraigned for the murder of one Savior James, her younger brother who died after she beat him with a turning stick. While narrating her story, Janet revealed that the sad incident which occurred on the 10th of August 2009, resulted from a sincere intention to discipline the deceased who has been caught stealing severally and not a deliberate act to take his life.

After careful review of the circumstances surrounding her case, LEDAP advised her in the light of the Section 76 & 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2011 and by her consent filed an application for Plea Bargaining.

Upon approval of the plea bargaining application and in view of the plea and sentence agreement dated the 9th April 2019, the Attorney General of Lagos State through the office of the Director of Public Prosecution proffered a new charge of manslaughter against Janet James with a proposed jail term of 14years imprisonment from the date of remand. This consequently formed the basis of the judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Adedayo Akintoye on the 15th April 2019.

Janet who was remanded on the 21st of August 2009, was subsequently released on the 16th April 2019 from the Kirikiri Female Prison having spent beyond her jail term according to the Nigerian Prison Service calendar.

While applauding the Lagos State Government for its continuous effort towards implementing the ACJL, LEDAP calls on other State Government to join in the domestication and implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 for an effective dispensation of justice and as an instrument in disposing off capital offences without recourse to death penalty. LEDAP also enjoins Defence Counsels across the nation to consider the provisions of plea bargaining for capital offences.

FOR: Legal Defence & Assistance Project (LEDAP)

Aladesanmi Joke.

VIDEO: Outrage as policeman beats up student, smashes his iPhone

Police officer seen harassing a student

A police sergeant attached to the Police Mobile Force has been caught on video beating up a student of Delta State University for owning a N200,000 Apple iPhone.

The video, which was sent to The PUNCH by Stephanie Oghalezino, shows a visibly angry policeman accosting passengers in a commercial bus in the Okpe area of Delta State.

The policeman goes ahead to begin questioning the male occupants of the vehicle who are believed to be students

The sergeant then asks one of the students how much his phone is and the student replies that it costs N200,000.

The angry sergeant complains that in his over 14 years on the job, he has not been able to afford a phone of over N15,000 and then accuses the student of being a fraudster who uses female panties to do juju.

He asks the student to take his belongings from the bus as he would not be allowed to continue on the journey with other passengers.

The cop subsequently asks the student to open his phone so that he can inspect its contents.

As the young man dilly-dallies, the cop hits the student repeatedly in the back and smashes the phone against the ground.

Source: Punchng.com

Man sets neighbour’s house on fire for rejecting his sexual advances

Three traders, Fatimoh, 47, Mutiat, 32 and Dupe, 41, who allegedly assaulted two policemen, while on duty, on Thursday appeared before an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State.

The defendants, all residents of Mushin, are standing trial on a four-count of breach of peace, resisting arrest, serious assault and conspiracy.

According to the Prosecutor, Inspector Aondohemba Koti, the defendants committed the offence on March 23 at Mushin, Lagos State.

He said that the defendants assaulted Assistant Superintendent of Police Abayomi Adejumo and Inspector Oluseun Adelaja while trying to restore peace in a situation.

“The policemen were assaulted when they were trying to make peace between the defendants and some electricity officials.

“Koti said that the defendants conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace by seizing the ladder, property of Eko Electricity Distribution Company over disconnection of power supply.

“The defendants also obstructed James, Adewale and Gideon, the electricity officials, from performing their duties.

“After the officials disconnected the defendants’ electricity supply, they seized the ladder and sat on it, ordering them to reconnect back the light.

“The electricity officials called the police when they could no longer handle the situation. The defendants still refused to release the ladder and instead, they beat up the policemen.

“The defendants resisted arrest but were later forced to the station,’’ the prosecutor said.

The defendants, however, denied the charges.

The offences contravened Sections 168, 117, 174 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Section 117 carries three years imprisonment for resisting arrest, while section 174 attracts three years for serious assault.

In her ruling, Magistrate Mrs M.O Tanimola, granted the defendants bail of N60, 000 each with one surety each in like sum.

Tanimola said that all the sureties should be gainfully employed and show evidence of two years tax payment to the Lagos State Government.

The case was adjourned until April 30 for mention.

Source: Punchng.com