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10 inmates were yesterday, 22nd November, bailed from Kirikiri Medium Prison by LEDAP

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The inmates who are majorly from the Northern part of Nigeria were charged before Ogba Magistrate Court 18 for street trading. However, from our interview with them we discovered that most of them were just raided on the street and charged to court. More so, the few ones arrested for street trading were just poor people trying all they can to make ends meet.  The most cruel thing is that the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officers who arrested them confiscated their goods which are worth more than N10,000 naira without any plan to return them to them after serving the jail terms or paying their fines.

The inmates who lamented on the terrible state of the prison regained their freedoms yesterday and vowed to return to their state where they would work without the fear of being arrested to avoid any future remand.

LEDAP, in its human rights drive, will launch on Dec 10, 2017, the World Human Rights Day a campaign for decriminalisation of petty offences. Reason is that many poor people are sent to prison custody for long for such misconducts as wandering, hawking ,person of no fixed address etc and when they mix with real criminals in the prison they gain disposition hardened criminality. In addition to violation of their rights in the process of long pre-trial custody.

Hall of Shame: 21 Nigerian institutions criticised for ‘violating’ FOI law

A host of public institutions have been publicly shamed for repeatedly failing to comply with the provisions of Freedom of Information Act.

The Media Rights Agenda published the 2017 list of ‘FoI Hall of Shame’ which also included some federal court judges.

More than 20 institutions and persons exhibited “an inexplicable disregard for the rights of citizens to seek and obtain information from public institutions while also demonstrating a near absolute contempt for the law,” the MRA said in a statement by its programme officer, Idowu Adewale.

In many instances, the MRA found, the culprits didn’t even acknowledge receipt of FoI enquiries, much less give a desired response.

PREMIUM TIMES recently published how the Attorney-General’s office had complained that Nigerians have been too reluctant to make use of the FoI law, which was signed in 2011.

The law mandates public institutions to grant access and reply to request for public records, except those on national security, within a time limit of seven days. Any insufficient denial of such request by an institution or public official attracts a fine of N500,000 payable on conviction by a court.

Yet, Nigerian ministries, departments and agencies have received very few requests for information from citizens, the AGF’s office found in a performance review published in October 2017.

The report said in 2014, 2015 and 2016, over 53 per cent of government agencies received ”just one or no request for information in the years under review.”

In 2014, 60 public institutions submitted FOI reports out of which 26 of them received no request from the public while 12 received just one request.

The remaining 22 received requests for information ranging from two to 133.

While the MRA did not dispute the findings of the AGF, the media advocacy group scolded public institutions for thwarting Nigerians who filed requests, a frustrating act that could discourage other citizens from making attempts.

Media organisations, like PREMIUM TIMES, have filed FoI requests that were repeatedly ignored by institutions.

Where some public officials found it necessary to respond, the content of their reply is usually redacted to the point of rendering it inadequate.

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund is the latest institution to be shamed by MRA, which found that the agency had failed to comply with all FoI requests or even comply with requirements that its compliance records be submitted to the AGF.

The MRA said TETFund failed to submit its annual reports to the AGF on its implementation of the FoI since it was passed into law in 2011.

It has “not submitted a single report” for six years, the MRA said.

Below is a list of 21 institutions and persons that the MRA has so far listed in its ‘FoI Hall of Shame.’

1. Justice Doris Okuwobi of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division, 03 July 2017

2. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),10 July 2017

3. Ministry of Information, 17 July 2017

4. Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja Division, 24 July 2017

5. Federal Ministry of Education, 31 July 2017

6. National Assembly, 07 August 2017

7. The Presidency, 14 August 2017

8. Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), 21 August 2017

9. Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), 28 August 2017

10. Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), 5 September 2017

11.Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), 11 September 2017

12. Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), 18 September 2017

13. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), 25 September 2017

14. Office Of The Auditor General of the Federation, 03 October 2017

15. Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) 09 October 2017

16. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) 16 October 2017

17. Federal Civil Service Commission, 23 October 2017

18. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, 30 October 2017

19. National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), 06 November 2017

20. National Examinations Council (NECO), 13 November 2017

21. Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), 20 November 2017

Source: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/250322-hall-shame-21-nigerian-institutions-criticised-violating-foi-law.html

Lawyer drags AGF, IGP to court for disobeying court judgements

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A constitutional lawyer, Mr. Ademola Odusote has dragged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, before the Federal High Court Abuja accusing them of flouting valid court judgements.

The Nigerian Police Force was equally cited as a defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1157/17, which the plaintiff brought pursuant to Order 3 Rules 6 and 9 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.Specifically, the plaintiff who is a Lagos based legal practitioner, posed five questions for the court to determine.

He prayed the court to determine, “Whether by the true interpretation of Section 287(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( as amended) the 1st (IGP), 2nd (Ibrahim Idris) and 3rd (Police) defendants respectively are not under absolute legal obligation to obey and enforce court judgements in any part of Nigeria.

“Whether considering the continuous and flagrant disobedience of court judgements by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants, the 2nd defendant is still a fit and proper person to remain in office as the Inspector General of Police and Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Federation

“Whether the 4th defendant being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation is not under legal obligation to advise President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to remove the 2nd defendant from office as the Inspector General of Police on the grounds that the 2nd defendant is in continuous breach of provisions of section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) thereby posing immense threat to the sustenance of our democracy.

“Whether considering the continuous and flagrant disobedience of court judgements by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants, the 2nd defendant is still a fit and proper person to remain in office as the Inspector General of Police and Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Federation

As well as, “Whether the 4th defendant being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation is not under legal obligation to advise President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to remove the 2nd defendant from office as the Inspector General of Police on the grounds that the 2nd defendant is in continuous breach of provisions of section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) thereby posing immense threat to the sustenance of our democracy.

Upon the determination of the questions, the plaintiff is seeking an order compelling the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants to do equity by forthwith obeying and enforcing all subsisting court judgements won against them, particularly the judgment delivered in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/176/2017 between the Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria & 49 others Vs. Nigeria Police Force & 5 others.

“An order directing the 4th defendant being the Chief Law Officer of the Federation to advise the President to remove the 2nd defendant from office as the Inspector General of Police on the grounds that the 2nd defendant is in continuous breach of the provisions of Section 287 (3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) thereby posing immense threat to the sustenance of our democracy.

“A declaration that by a true interpretation of Section 287 (3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the action of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants by continuously and flagrantly disobeying and refusing to enforce court judgements, particularly the judgment delivered on 9th November, 2017, by Justice Gabriel Kolawole in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/176/2017 between the Incorporated Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria & 49 others Vs Nigeria Police Force and 5 others is tantamount to circumventing the law as well as undermining due administration of justice, independence, authority and powers of the judiciary.

“A declaration that it is inequitable to hear the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants in any competent court in Nigeria being that they have refused to obey and enforce several court judgements, as our courts are courts of law and equity and he who wants equity must do equity.

Likewise, “A declaration that by the true interpretation of section 287 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the action of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants by refusing to obey and enforce court judgements is contemptuous enough to warrant this Honourable Court to preclude them from initiating and or continuing legal proceedings before any court of law in Nigeria.Meanwhile, the case is yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/lawyer-drags-agf-igp-to-court-for-disobeying-court-judgements/

ACJA implementation not well-funded, says judge, British Council

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The British Council and a judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Abubakar Talba, the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, among other stakeholders in the justice sector, on Wednesday, called for adequate funding to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

They spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day ‘Stakeholders’ review of implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015’ organised by the CSLS.Also represented at the event was the Director of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Umar Mohammed, who expressed frustration caused sometimes by poor funding in presenting prosecution witnesses in court.

Justice Talba, who represented the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, noted that since its passage in 2015, the ACJA had brought improvement into criminal trials.

He, however, regretted that inadequate funding was hampering the implementation of its key provisions.

He cited as an example the failure of government to provide funds for witness expenses and its impact on criminal trial.

He said, “Sections 251 to 254 of ACJA provide for witness expenses. As important as it is, it has been difficult to implement.

“The government must provide the funds for witness expenses. In my court, a defendant asked for the recall of a prosecution witness.

“The prosecution agreed to recall the witness but said the defendant would bear the cost.

“The witness was to come from Lagos, the defendant said the ACJA had provided for witness expenses. He cited Section 252 of ACJA. He said court could not order payment by the registrar knowing that the money was not there. That was how the witness could not be recalled.”

The judge lauded some of the provisions of the law such as the prohibition of granting of stay of proceedings in a criminal trial.

He said, “There has been a lot of improvement in the trials most especially now that there is no stay of proceedings in criminal trials. The Supreme Court has stamped its approval. On this note, I will say, so far so good.”

He also said the Act had brought an improvement into bail administration, which, he said, now allowed defendants charged with capital offences to be granted bail “under exceptional circumstances such as ill health, delay in the investigation, arraignment and prosecution for a period exceeding one year.”

He however noted that the police had abused the use of ex parte remand order provided for by the ACJA

He said, “But I must mention that the police are not doing well on the issue of remand protocols under Section 293 of the ACJA.

“The police will come to court ex parte, and obtain a remand order; thereafter, they will abandon the suspects in prison custody for over a year. And due to the workload, it is not easy for the judge to remember each remand order granted.

“I had that experience in my court. Some of my colleagues had the experience too.”

He said the judiciary alone could not ensure the implementation of the Act hence “others stakeholders must have the will and determination to cooperate with the judiciary in the implementation.”

The representative of the DPPF, Mr. Abdullahi Yusuf, noted that due to paucity of funds, prosecutors from the Federal Ministry of Justice were often faced with a situation whereby they were compelled to spend from their personal purse to mobilise witness to court and prosecute the case for the government.

“When you have to use your personal money to prosecute a case for government, the case will suffer,” he said.

He advocated the setting up of the implementation monitoring committee provided for by the ACJA, if such had yet to be established.

He said if such a committee was in place, it would help to canvass for suitable budgetary allocation before the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

“I am appealing to the National Assembly members to use their good offices to address this challenge,” he added.

The representative of the British Council, Mr. Danladi Plang, noted that a lot of good legislation in Nigeria had been rendered ineffective due to inadequate funding.

But he said besides the advocacy for funding, there must be a mechanism in place, “to ensure that the funds are used for the purposes they are meant for.”

In his welcome address, the President of CSLS, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), called on the National Judicial Council’s monitoring committee on high-profile corruption cases to “make public the list of high-profile cases they are monitoring.”

“The committee, now headed by Justice Galadima, should urgently make its modus operandi public.

“There have been strident calls by observers that some members of the committee cannot be expected to monitor cases they are defending in the courts. This is a major issue which must be addressed urgently.”

He also called for the monitoring of the roles of investigators, prosecutors, witnesses and the dilatory tactics often employed by defence lawyers.

He added, “Justices of the Supreme Court must not to allow themselves to be persuaded to vary their progressive stance in Olisah Metuh to the effect that: Section 306 of the ACJA (which prohibits stay of proceedings in criminal trial) is not unconstitutional.”

He called on the government and the NJC to “deliberately invest more in improving the welfare of judges, investigators and prosecutors in order to make them less vulnerable to the corrupting influence of high-profile defendants.”

Akinseye-George added, “The judges, investigators and prosecutors working in the specialised courts (which the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, recently ordered heads of various court to create) must be well-resourced and adequately protected from the corruption influence of high-profile defendants.”

Source:https://thenigerialawyer.com/acja-implementation-not-well-funded-says-judge-british-council/

Trials without end?

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting over 103 high-profile cases. At least six of the cases were filed 10 years ago. Why are the trials still pending in courts? ROBERT EGBE asks.

Criminal trials lasting several years are not peculiar to the Nigerian judicial system. In India, for instance, 1,680,865 criminal cases have lasted longer than 10 years as at October 15, 2017, according to the country’s National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG). Overall, more than 22 million cases are pending in India’s district courts, six million of which have lasted longer than five years.

In Nigeria, how long do criminal trials last?

Last October, Nigeria’s foremost anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), published a list of 43 high-profile cases it has been prosecuting since 2007. It said it secured 125 convictions in 2016 alone.

Last month, it was reported that the anti-graft agency had made details of 60 more high-profile cases available to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. Thus, 103 of such cases filed by the EFCC between 2007 and 2015 are pending in courts.

Six of the cases stand out for two reasons: they began 10 years ago and involve former governors for alleged money laundering and fraud. A few others have been on for a little less longer. They are as follows:

 

Odili

Perhaps the most-talked about case involving the EFCC is the one instituted by Peter Odili, who governed Rivers State for two terms, from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007.

On December 12, 2006, the EFCC issued an interim investigative report and prepared a draft of 223 charges against Odili, accusing him of embezzling N100 billion.

On January 31, and February 26, 2007, at the twilight of his tenure, Odili approached two courts in the state capital where he filed two cases through his Attorney-General, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN). The cases were filed on behalf of the state.

The first case was before Justice PNC Agumagu of the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, where Odili urged the court to declare, among others, that the “House of Assembly for Rivers State is not entitled to surrender to any person, body, or organisation (including ICPC and EFCC, or any other investigative body), or share or abdicate its powers of control over the public funds of Rivers State as vested in it by the Constitution.

The second case was filed before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. It had the EFCC, the Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Clerk of the House as defendants.

The suit sought a declaration that the EFCC is not entitled to share the powers of the Rivers State House of Assembly under the Constitution. It also sought, among others, an injunction restraining the EFCC from sharing the powers of the Assembly and also from disseminating, and distributing or acting on the report of investigation it carried out into the administration and management of the funds appropriated by the Rivers State House of Assembly.

On February 16, 2007, Justice Agumagu delivered his judgment,  declaring that the EFCC, as an organ of the executive arm of the government, had no right under a federal system to inquire into the accounts of Rivers State.

The judge also restrained all the defendants from giving the EFCC access to the accounts of the state.

The suit before Justice Buba of the Federal High Court also went into full trial and in a judgment delivered on March 20, 2007, Justice Buba upheld the plaintiff’s prayers.

Two months after leaving office, Odili returned to Justice Buba’s court where he filed a suit in his personal capacity against the Attorney-General of the Federation and the EFCC.

The judge granted his prayers and restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining, or prosecuting him. It also granted a perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC from using its interim report, which the court had earlier declared null and void.

Following a petition against the judge, the National Judicial Council (NJC) examined the judgment and found no irregularity.

Case status: The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property Chairman, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, confirmed to The Nation that the EFCC’s appeal against the judgment is pending at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division.

 

Dariye

The EFCC charged former Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye at the Federal Capital Teritory (FCT) High Court, Gudu, with N1.162 billion fraud.

Dariye is facing a 21-count charge bordering on breach of trust and diversion of N1.162 billion Plateau Ecological Fund. The trial commenced in October 2007 before Justice Adebukola Banjoko, but the case could not proceed because Dariye filed an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

He argued that he should be tried in Plateau and not in Abuja but his application was dismissed by the lower court.  However, the matter dragged on until 2015 when the Supreme Court ordered him to return to the Abuja High Court for trial.

At the last hearing at the High Court on October 10, 2017 Dariye closed his case and applied for a written address.

Case status: Adjourned till December 7, for written addresses.

 

Nnamani

Former Enugu State Governor Chimaroke Nnamani was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Lagos in 2007, on a N5 billion money laundering charge. The ex-governor was docked alongside Sunday Anyaogu, his then aide and six firms linked to them. The firms are Rainbownet Nigeria Limited; Hillgate Nigeria Limited; Cosmos FM; Capital City Automobile Nigeria Limited; Renaissance University Teaching Hospital and Mea Mater Elizabeth High School.

The case was re-assigned to Justice Charles Archibong following the transfer of Justice Abubakar, now of the Appeal Court, out of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

Again, the case was re-assigned to Justice Mohammed Yinusa, after Justice Archibong (now retired) was also transferred out of the Lagos Division of the court.

According to the charge, Nnamani allegedly conspired with other accused persons to launder funds from the state treasury, especially monies meant for the local government areas of Enugu State.

On November 18, 2014, the EFCC prosecutor, Kevin Uzozie, obtained leave of court for a separate trial of the companies, which were arraigned alongside Nnamani.

Uzozieargued that the matter had been stalled several times on account of Mr. Nnamani’s frequent applications to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Mr. Uzozie said from the records of the court, it was clear that Mr. Nnamani had always applied to court for leave to travel out of the country on grounds of ill-health.

“It is a scandal that a criminal case which the law says must be speedily concluded has not even proceeded to trial seven years after it was filed,” he said.

On May 19, 2015, the four companies pleaded guilty to a 10-count amended charge.

Case status: Trial has been delayed by Nnamani’salleged illness.

 

 

 Kalu

The EFCC arraigned former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu in 2007, on a 96-count charge of money laundering.

However, Kalu challenged the competence of the charge and the power of the EFCC to prosecute him. This preliminary issue was argued up to the Supreme Court, delaying trial.

After a lengthy legal battle, the apex court in 2016, ordered Kalu to stand trial. In October 2016, the EFCC re-arraigned Kalu, Udeh Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited at the Federal High Court in Lagos on 34 counts of laundering N3.2billion, to which they pleaded not guilty.

The defendants allegedly diverted about N3.2billion from the Abia State treasury while Kalu was the governor.

Case status: Trial ongoing.

 

Nyame

Former Taraba State Governor Jolly Nyame was arraigned by the EFCC for alleged stealing and diversion of state funds in 2007. The EFCC accused him of  41-count charge of criminal misappropriation of N1.64 billion state funds.

He challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Gudu, to try him up to the Supreme Court. But the apex court ruled that he had a case to answer and his trial recommenced in 2016.

Case status: Following the conclusion of his testimony, the EFCC continued Nyame’s cross-examination on October 12, 2017.

 

Goje

The trial of Senator Danjuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, began in 2007. But following his re-election as governor in 2007, his trial could not proceed because he was immune from prosecution.

Goje is being prosecuted for alleged conspiracy and money laundering at the Federal High Court, Plateau State.

At the continuation of trial on September 26, 2017, the EFCC presented four witnesses, who testified as the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th witnesses.

Case status: Justice Babatunde Quadri adjourned till November 20 and 21 for continuation of trial.

 

Turaki

Saminu Turaki, who served two terms as governor of Jigawa State, from 1999 to 2007, was arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal Capital Territory High Court on July 13, 2007 on a 32-count charge of misappropriating N36 billion while in office.

But his trial could not continue because, according to the EFCC, he absconded after being granted bail.

On May 3, 2013, a Federal High Court in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, issued a warrant for his arrest for serially failing to appear before the court.

At a book launch in Abuja on July 4, the EFCC re-arrested Turaki. He was in EFCC custody for 14 days, but was released on the order of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Case status: Trial commenced on September 28, 2017.

 

Other long criminal trials

Ladoja

On August 28, 2008, former Oyo State Governor Rasheed Ladoja was arrested by the EFCC over allegations of non-remittance of the proceeds of sale of government shares totalling N1.9 billion during his administration.

He was briefly remanded in prison by the Federal High Court in Lagos on August 30, 2008 and granted bail on September 5. The case went to the Supreme Court, which dismissed Ladoja’s interlocutory appeal.

The EFCC re-arraigned the former governor at the Federal High Court in Lagos last December, for allegedly converting N4.7 billion from the state treasury to his personal use. He was charged along with Waheed Akanbi on eight counts of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.

Case status: Trial ongoing.

 

Fayose

The EFCC, on November 22, 2012 re-arraigned Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Peter Fayose, on a 27-count charge of conversion of public funds amounting to N416,138,360.75 at the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti.

The EFCC accused Mr. Fayose of stealing the state’s funds during his first stint as governor between 2003 and 2006.

The agency called three witnesses in the case before Fayose was sworn in as governor in October 2014.

Case status: Struck out due to the immunity Fayose enjoys as governor under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.

Source: http://thenationonlineng.net/trials-without-end-2/

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600 NIGERIANS ON DEATH ROW IN ASIA

Barely one year ago, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a human rights organisation, alerted the nation that about 300 Nigerians were on death row in prisons across Asian countries. During the World Day Against the Use of the Death Penalty last week, LEPAD once again drew the country’s attention to the rising number of Nigerians awaiting execution in different parts of the world. Within this period, the number of offenders has doubled as more than 600 Nigerians in South- East Asia countries are awaiting the hangman, most of them on drug-related offences.

The revelations highlight the increasing desperation of some Nigerians in the narcotic trade. More Nigerians are pouring across the borders with hard drugs in spite of the sophistication in technology as well as the stiff punishment mapped out to curb the illegal business. The boom in the illegal trade perhaps speaks to the fact that the country’s law enforcement agencies still have much work on their hands. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are evidently among the active drug routes, judging by the number of traffickers caught regularly. Incidentally, these are countries where it is public knowledge that trafficking in hard drug carries the mandatory death sentence.
Indeed, many convicted drug traffickers had been executed in Asia, from Singapore to Vietnam. Some 120 Nigerians were reportedly on death row in Chinese prisons, due mainly to peddling in narcotics.

According to reports, about 16,500 Nigerians are pinning away in various prisons across the world, most of them on drug–related cases. But Indonesia seems an exceptional destination as many Nigerians have been caught, tried and executed there in the recent past. The gravity of the problem was underscored recently when the federal government led by Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, pleaded with the government of Indonesia to commute the death penalty passed on Nigerians to life imprisonment. But Indonesia was non-committal.

In 2016, three convicted drug peddlers were killed in Indonesia while some 153 others were placed on death row. In one particular sensational outing which captured the attention of the world in April 2015, four Nigerians convicted of drug trafficking were executed along with other nationals by Indonesian authorities via firing squad. Pleas for leniency by Nigeria, the United Nations and Amnesty International were reportedly downplayed by the Indonesian government partly because “at that point, seven fresh cases of drug trafficking involving Nigerians had just emerged in Indonesia”.

Unfortunately, that execution came shortly after the upper house of parliament, the Senate, debated a motion entitled: “Nigerians involvement in illicit global drugs trade and increase in domestic drug abuse by Nigerian youth.” The Senate noted rightly that our nationals were viewed with suspicion and subjected to demeaning treatment at airports across the world as a result of this negative perception. Indeed, they inflict grave damage on the country’s image across the world.

Yet LEPAD also raised other concerns: that Nigeria has often greeted these reports with no more than a shrug. In effect, the country is not doing much to get some of those who had conflict with the law out of trouble. According to Mr. Chino Obiagwu, National Coordinator of LEPAD, the government “has not shown reasonable interest in the plight of these Nigerians in foreign land.” He said many of the convicts were subjected to summary trials and convicted without the benefit of legal counsel.

While we agree that the authority could do more to get Nigerians out of trouble in foreign land, we have also emphasised that Nigerians should live within the laws of the country they chose to reside or do business. But the scale of the problem and the consequences for our image, national security and public health are so severe that something must be done urgently.

source: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/11/22/600-nigerians-on-death-row-in-asia/

Court Orders FG to Reinstate NEMA Spokesperson Four Years After Compulsory Retirement

Justice David Isele of the National Industrial Court NIC has ordered the immediate reinstatement of a former spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Yushau Shuaib, back into the public service after being forcefully retired in 2013 over an opinion article he wrote on former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Through James Abah of Bamidele Aturu Legal Chamber, Mr. Shuaib had sued the Finance Minister, Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC, and Federal Ministry of Information over the purported retirement.

Delivering the Judgement, Justice Isele declared that the letter retiring Mr. Shuaib from service has no force of law and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the civil service rules.

The judge also declared “the premature retirement of NEMA spokesperson by the Federal Government without conducting any investigation, without giving him an opportunity to defend himself and without complying with the condition precedent for retirement is contrary to section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and therefore illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and null and void.”

The court, therefore, ordered the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Shuaib to his duty post as the Chief Information Officer without any loss to seniority, salaries, position and other emoluments.

The judge ordered the federal government to compute and pay within 30 days (before Xmas/New Year) all Mr. Shuaib’s salaries, allowances and other emoluments due to him from June 2013 to the judgment date (November 22, 2017) and interest at the prevailing commercial bank’s rate on his total package.

The case centred on the retirement of Mr. Shuaib over an allegation of criticising Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala in an opinion article on lopsided appointment in the public service. Early in his statement of defence before the court, Mr. Shuaib had stated that Public Service Rule 030421 gave him the right to write an article. The section states that “Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to prevent an officer from publishing in his own name, by writing, speech or broadcast matters relating to a subject of general interest which does not contain a critic of any officer.”

He also cited Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

Mr. Shuaib, an award-winning writer, was offered automatic employment by Delta State and federal government after winning state and presidential awards of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in 1993.

He had served at various organisations as Public Relations Officer and Press Secretary including Delta State Govt House, Asaba, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, National Press Centre, and National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

After his purported compulsory retirement, Mr. Shuaib activated PRNigeria, a press release platform for critical institutions in Nigeria serving the military, security, intelligence and response agencies among others.

Source: http://www.nigeriabar.com/2017/11/court-orders-fg-to-reinstate-nema-spokesperson-four-years-after-compulsory-retirement#.WhaJvNKnG1s

A GARNISHEE BANK HAS NO BUSINESS DEFENDING A JUDGMENT DEBTOR

 FIDELTY BANK v. ONWUKA (2017) LPELR-42839(CA)
PRACTICE AREA:  PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

INTRODUCTION

The garnishee proceeding is a judicial process available to a judgment creditor to enforce a monetary judgment. Succinctly put, it enables the judgment debtor to recover the judgment sum by attaching monies belonging to the judgment debtor in the coffer(s) of a third party (the garnishee).

More often than not, the garnishee is a bank and it is sometimes the case that the bank (garnishee) will want to hide under the fiduciary relationship between a customer and a bank, to say that they cannot disclose the sum standing to the credit of the judgment creditor. Some banks see it as their duty to ‘protect’ their customers and as such, they go to lengths to defend their customers to ensure that the money is not attached. These issues, alongside other matters relating to the garnishee proceedings were discussed extensively in the appeal at hand.

In delivering the leading government, Ogunwumiju, J.C.A said: “There is no doubt that a garnishee proceeding is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a judgment debtor by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay money, otherwise owed to the judgment debtor, directly to the judgment creditor.

In other words, a Garnishee  proceeding is a process of enforcing money judgment by the seizure or attachment of the debt due and accruing to the judgment debtor, which forms part of his property in the hands of a third party for attachment. By this process, the Court is competent to order a third party in whose hands the property of the judgment debtor is, to pay directly to the judgment creditor the debt due or accruing from him to the judgment debtor or as much as it as may be sufficient to satisfy the judgment and the costs of the proceedings.”

She proceeded to explain the stages in the garnishee proceeding. In her words, “ A garnishee proceeding can be described in two stages; the first stage is the process of getting an order nisi. The order nisi directs the garnishee to appear in Court on a specified date to show cause why an order should not be made upon him for payment to the judgment creditor the amount of the debt owed the judgment debtor. This is usually done ex parte and limited to the judgment creditor and the Court.

The second stage is where on the return date the garnishee does not attend, or does not dispute the debt claimed to be due from him to the judgment debtor, the Court may, subject to certain restrictions, make the garnishee order absolute under which the garnishee is ordered to pay to the judgment creditor the amount of debt due from him to the judgment debtor, or so much of it as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment debt together with the cost of the proceedings and cost of garnishee. This later proceeding is tripartite between the judgment debtor, judgment creditor and the Garnishee. This is because on the return date all parties must have been served and given an opportunity to dispute liability or pray that the order nisi be discharged for one cause or the other as shown by any of the parties, particularly the garnishee. This is because the garnishee may dispute his liability to pay the debt. He will appear in Court on the return date and dispute his liability by denying indebtedness to the judgment debtor.”

On the fiduciary duty owed by a bank to its customer, she clarified that “the duty of confidentiality owed a customer is certainly subject to an order of Court. It is firmly settled that an order of Court must be obeyed until such a time that the order is set aside.

In other words, one of the exceptions to the duty of confidentiality owed a customer by the bank is where there is a Court order compelling the disclosure of the account details or any other information of a customer. Such Court order obviates the liability that a bank would ordinarily incur in the event of a breach of the duty of confidentiality.”

She then emphasized that “It has been reiterated by the Courts that it is not the duty or business of a garnishee to play the role of a defender or advocate for a judgment debtor by attempting to protect the money of the judgment debtor in its custody.”

FACTS IN BRIEF

The facts leading to this instant appeal are that the Respondent herein, having obtained a judgment of N23,936,100.25 at the Contracts Evaluation Debts and Property Recovery Tribunal of Anambra State of Nigeria against the Anambra State Government, filed a motion ex parte (as judgment creditor) and subsequently obtained a Garnishee Order Nisi at the High Court directing the Appellant (as 3rd garnishee, there being three garnishees in all) to show cause why the Order Nisi should not be made absolute upon it for payment to the Respondent the amount of judgment debt due to the Respondent or so much as would satisfy the judgment debt and the costs entered on the summons. The Appellant filed an affidavit showing cause but did not furnish the Court with the amount belonging to the judgment debtor in its custody. The Appellant cited lack of specific account details as the reason for the non-disclosure.

The learned trial judge consequently made an order on 15/7/13 directing the Appellant to furnish the Court with the amount in all the accounts maintained by the Anambra State Government with the Appellant within seven (7) days.

Dissatisfied with the Ruling, the Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal leading to the appeal at hand.

ISSUE(S) FOR DETERMINATION

The sole issue distilled by the Court for the just determination of this Appeal is:

Whether the order of the trial Court directing the Appellant to furnish the Court with the amount in all the accounts operated by the Anambra State Government with the Appellant was perverse with regard to garnishee proceedings.

RATIO DECIDENDI

  • BANKING LAW – DUTY OF A BANK: General rule as to the duty of confidentiality a bank owes its customers and its exceptions

“It is beyond controversy that one of the principal duties of a banker to its customer is to maintain a complete secrecy/confidentiality of the information about a customer’s account from the day the account is closed and is no longer operated. It is one of the implied terms of contract between the customer and the banker which is not restricted to the account alone but also to any other information which comes to the knowledge of the banker about the customer in the course of their contractual relationship. However, the duty of the banker to maintain secrecy/confidentiality of the status of the account and any other information relating thereto is not absolute. It is a qualified duty. In other words, it is subject to a number of exceptions which were established by the English case of TOURNIER V. NATIONAL PROVINCIAL AND UNION BANK OF ENGLAND (1924) 1 KB 461 AT 472 as follows: (a) “Where disclosure is under compulsion of law. (b) Where there is a duty to the public to disclose. (c) Where the interests of the bank requires disclosure. (d) Where the disclosure is made by express or implied consent of the customer” These exceptions which are referred to as Tournier’s principles still holds good today as they have been confirmed in several other cases. See TURNER V. ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND PLC (1999) LLOYD’S LAW REP. BANKING 231 AT 234, CHRISTOFI V. BARCLAYS BANK PLC (2000) 1 WLR 937 AT 946, OCEANIC BANK PLC VS. OLADAPO (2012) LPELR- 19670. We are concerned here with the first exception. The banker would be justified and is in fact under a duty to disclose information relating to a customer’s account where the law or Statute requires the banker to so do. Disclosure under compulsion of the law is not limited to a situation where a Statute requires the bank to disclose information about a customer’s account, it extends to an order of Court to disclose the state of a customer’s account, the banker is bound to disclose the state of the customer’s accounts. In BARCLAYS BANK PLC V. TAYLOR (1989) 3 ALL ER. 563, it was contended that a banker’s duty of secrecy/confidentiality included the duty to resist any order made by a lawful authority to look into the affairs of the customer and the bank was under a duty to inform the customer about the order. The English Court rejected that contention on the ground that such duty cannot be implied into the banker and customer relationship. See also ROBERTSON V. CANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE (1995) 1 ALL ER 824.

The argument of the appellant’s counsel that a disclosure of all the account details of the judgment debtor would be a breach of its duty of secrecy/confidentiality must be rejected. A banker has no option than to disclose particulars of its customer’s accounts when it is compelled to do so by the Court. Reliance of the appellant on lack of specific account details must also be rejected because the nature, number and the amount of money standing to the credit of the judgment debtor in its account with the appellant are matters within the knowledge of the appellant which must be disclosed on the order of Court to enable the Court to determine whether or not the judgment debtor has money in the custody of the garnishee and whether such money is sufficient to satisfy the judgment debt. That was the position of this Court in OCEANIC BANK PLC VS. OLADAPO (SUPRA) and it remains unchanged.”Per BOLAJI-YUSUFF, J.C.A. (Pp. 48-51, Paras. E-E)

  • BANKING LAW – BANKER-CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP: Nature of a banker/customer relationship

“A bank is a debtor to its customer. In The Bankers’ Liability, Revised Edition, 2014 by Nkiru-Nzegwu Danjuma appears the following passage at pages 108 to 109: “As regards money deposited by the customer in an account with the banker, the nature of the banker and customer relationship is that of contract of debtor and creditor. The position becomes clearer when the customer asks for his money. As a result of an implied undertaking by the banker to repay the customer all or part of such deposit, the banker is a debtor for an amount deposited. If a valid repayment demand of the customer is not met by the banker, the customer may bring an action against it for breach of contract. The action will be against the bank and not against the bank manager. In Osawaye vs. National Bank of Nigeria Ltd. (1974) NCCR 474 the debtor and creditor relationship was restated thus: “The relationship between a banker and customer is one of debtor and creditor with the additional feature that the banker is only liable to repay the customer on payment being demanded. There is no obligation on the part of the banker or debtor to seek out his creditor, the customer and pay him: obligation is only to pay the customer or some person nominated by the customer, when the customer makes a demand or gives a direction for payment.” It is the receipt of money either from or on account of its customer that constitutes a banker into debtor of the customer. Thus, when a banker credits the account of a customer with a certain sum of money, the banker becomes a debtor to the customer to the extent of the credit. It is to be noted that the ordinary customer rank as an unsecured creditor in the liquidation of the bank. The concept of debtor and creditor in the banker and customer relationship are not static. The banker may in certain cases become the creditor, while the customer assumes the position of a debtor. For instance, where a banker grants overdrafts to its customer and debits the customer’s account with sum or value of the overdraft, the customer becomes a debtor to the banker to an amount equal to the credit. Accordingly, after the reconciliation of the banker and customer’s account, which party is the creditor, can sue if demand for payment is not complied with. The Supreme Court in Yesufu vs. African Continental Bank (supra) affirmed this legal position.” Per TUR, J.C.A. (Pp. 39-41, Paras. E-F)

  • JUDGMENT AND ORDER – ORDER OF GARNISHEE: Implication of a garnishee order nisi

“With the greatest respect, it is clear that there is an abysmal lack of understanding of the garnishee proceedings by learned Appellant’s counsel. The order of Court was not an order absolute as counsel for the Appellant contends. While the other two garnishees (Access Bank Plc. and Diamond Bank Plc.) in obedience to the Court order, filed affidavits disclosing the accounts of the judgment debtor with them to show cause why they should not satisfy the judgment debt, the Appellant blatantly refused and resorted to legal games after the Order Nisi was served on it. In fact, the Appellant submitted at paragraph 5.11 of the Appellant’s Brief that Anambra State Government through its various Ministries and Departments keep several accounts with the banks and without specific account particulars, certain accounts ‘may be wrongly attached with the concomitant dangerous effect’. In one breath, the Appellant claims it could not conduct a search because there was not enough particulars, on another, the Appellant admits that the judgment debtor operates several accounts with the Appellant but the ‘dangerous effect’ of complying with the order of Court prevents the Appellant from so doing. That is absolutely unacceptable. It has been reiterated by the Courts that it is not the duty or business of a garnishee to play the role of a defender or advocate for a judgment debtor by attempting to protect the money of the judgment debtor in its custody. By refusing to disclose the accounts of the judgment debtor, it is clear to me that the Appellant is doing its best to disobey an order of Court. In sum, the order of Court appealed against is not an order absolute, it is an order mandating the Appellant to furnish the Court with the accounts operated by the judgment debtor with the Appellant. It does not automatically transmit to an order of Court attaching the funds for execution as it is under an order absolute. What it is, is an attempt by the Court to ascertain whether such funds at the disposal of the Appellant belonging to the judgment debtor can satisfy the judgment debt which is the essence of the order nisi for the Appellant to show cause.”Per OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A. (Pp. 22-24, Paras. A-A)

  • PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – GARNISHEE PROCEEDINGS: Nature of garnishee proceedings

“It is beyond doubt that one of the methods by which liquidated money judgments can be enforced is by way of garnishee proceedings. Garnishee proceedings is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as follows: A judicial proceeding in which a creditor (or potential creditor) asks the Court to order a third party who is indebted to or is bailee for the debtor to turn over to the creditor any of the debtor’s property (such as wages or bank accounts) held by that third party. Part V- Attachment of debts by Garnishee Order is the appropriate part of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act which regulates this process. I will set out the relevant provisions necessary to determine the issue under consideration. S. 83 provides as follows: 83(1).

The Court may, upon the ex parte application of any person who is entitled to the benefit of a judgment for the recovery or payment of money, either before or after any oral examination of the debtor liable under such judgment and upon affidavit by the applicant or his legal practitioner that judgment has been recovered and that it is still unsatisfied and to what amount and that any other person is indebted to such debtor and is within the State, order the debts owing from such third person, hereinafter called the garnishee, to such debtor shall be attached to satisfy the judgment or order, together with the costs of the garnishee proceedings and by the same or any subsequent order it may be ordered that the garnishee shall appear before the Court to show cause why he should not pay to the person who has obtained such judgment or order the debt due from him to such debtor or so much there of as may be sufficient to satisfy the judgment or order together with costs aforesaid. 83(2). At least fourteen days before the day of hearing, a copy of the order nisi shall be served upon the garnishee and on the judgment debtor. S. 87 also provides as follows: If the garnishee appears and disputes his liability, the Court, instead of making an order that execution shall issue, may order that any issue or question necessary for determining his liability be tried or determined in any manner in which any issue or question in any proceedings may be tried or determined, or may refer the matter to a referee. A garnishee proceeding can be described in two stages; the first stage is the process of getting an order nisi. The order nisi directs the garnishee to appear in Court on a specified date to show cause why an order should not be made upon him for payment to the judgment creditor the amount of the debt owed the judgment debtor. This is usually done ex parte and limited to the judgment creditor and the Court. The second stage is where on the return date the garnishee does not attend, or does not dispute the debt claimed to be due from him to the judgment debtor, the Court may, subject to certain restrictions, make the garnishee order absolute under which the garnishee is ordered to pay to the judgment creditor the amount of debt due from him to the judgment debtor, or so much of it as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment debt together with the cost of the proceedings and cost of garnishee. This later proceeding is tripartite between the judgment debtor, judgment creditor and the Garnishee.

This is because on the return date all parties must have been served and given an opportunity to dispute liability or pray that the order nisi be discharged for one cause or the other as shown by any of the parties, particularly the garnishee. This is because the garnishee may dispute his liability to pay the debt. He will appear in Court on the return date and dispute his liability by denying indebtedness to the judgment debtor. There is no doubt that a garnishee proceeding is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a judgment debtor by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay money, otherwise owed to the judgment debtor, directly to the judgment creditor. In UBN Plc. V. Boney Marcus Industries Ltd. & Ors. (2005) All FWLR (Pt.278) 1037 at 1046, garnishee proceeding was defined as a process of enforcing a money judgment by the seizure or attachment of the debts due or accruing to the judgment debtor which form part of his property available in execution. It is in the hands of a third party whereby, the Court order is required to direct the third party to pay directly to the judgment creditor. By the Judgment Enforcement Rules, where any bank, in custody of the monies belonging to a customer who is a judgment debtor, is within the jurisdiction of the Court that has decided a debt as due to the judgment creditor against a judgment debtor (whom the bank is in custody of his monies), such monies or funds can be utilized in settlement of the judgment debt and enforced by such Court as immediately payable to the judgment debtor/customer. In other words, a Garnishee proceeding is a process of enforcing money judgment by the seizure or attachment of the debt due and accruing to the judgment debtor, which forms part of his property in the hands of a third party for attachment. By this process, the Court is competent to order a third party in whose hands the property of the judgment debtor is, to pay directly to the judgment creditor the debt due or accruing from him to the judgment debtor or as much as it as may be sufficient to satisfy the judgment and the costs of the proceedings. See Citizens Int’l Bank v. SCOA (Nig) Ltd (2006) 18 NWLR Pt.1011 Pg. 334. Thus, a garnishee proceeding is a process leading to the attachment of debt owed to a judgment debtor by a third party who is indebted to the judgment debtor. It is sui generis and is unlike other proceedings for enforcement of judgment.”Per OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A. (Pp. 9-14, Paras. F-D)

– PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – GARNISHEE PROCEEDINGS: Principles governing garnishee proceedings

“Section 3(1)-(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as altered provides as follows: “3(1) There shall be 36 States in Nigeria, that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara. (2) Each State of Nigeria, named in the first column of Part I of the First Schedule to this Constitution, shall consist of the area shown opposite thereto in the second column of that Schedule. (3) The headquarters of the Government of each State shall be known as the Capital City of that State as shown in the third column of the said Part I of the First Schedule opposite the State named in the first column thereof.” Anambra State has a “Government”. A “Government” is defined in Section 318(1) of the Constitution to include “…the Government of the Federation or of any State, or of a local government council or any person who exercise power or authority on its behalf.” Authority is defined to include “Government.” A “function” includes “power and duty”. A “person” includes “anybody of persons corporate or unincorporate.” See Section 18(1) of the Interpretation Act Cap. 123, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Every State Government exercises powers and functions through persons, authorities or offices, etc. Moneys are held by such persons, authorities or bodies, for instance in banks, or by public officers for and on behalf of the Government. See Sections 316-317 of the Constitution. Section 83(1) of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act Cap. S.6 does not lay any burden on a judgment creditor to establish how many accounts a judgment debtor has with a third party or as in this case, the appellant. All that the judgment creditor is to establish is that the appellant is a debtor to the Anambra State Government (the judgment debtor). Section 124(1)-(3) of the Evidence Act, 2011 provides as follows: “124(1) Proof shall not be required of a fact the knowledge of which is not reasonably open to question and which is:- (a) Common knowledge in the locality in which the proceeding is being held, or generally; or (b) Capable of verification by reference to a document the authority of which cannot reasonably be questioned. (2) The Court may acquire, in any manner it deems fit, knowledge of a fact to which Subsection (1) of this Section refers, and shall take such knowledge into account. (3) The Court shall give to a party to any proceeding such opportunity to make submission, and to refer to a relevant information, in relation to the acquiring or taking into account of such knowledge, as is necessary to ensure that the party is not unfairly prejudiced.” It is common knowledge that modernized banks conduct business through the use of computers. Section 258(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011 defines what is a “bank,” a “banker”; “banker’s books,” “banking business” and “computer” as follows:

“258(1) In this Act:- “Bank” or “banker” means a bank licensed under the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act Cap. B3, Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and includes anybody authorized under an enactment to carry on banking business. “Banker’s books” (and related expressions) includes ledger, day books, cash books, account books and all other books used in banking business. “Banking business” has the meaning assigned to it in the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 1991. “Computer” means any device for storing and processing information, and any reference to information being derived from other information is a reference to its being derived from it by calculation, comparison or any other process.” Sections 51 and 52 of the Evidence Act, 2011 is couched as follows: “51. Entries in books of accounts or electronic records regularly kept in the course of business are admissible whenever they refer to a matter into which the Court has to inquire but such statements shall not alone be sufficient evidence to charge any person with liability. 52. An entry in any public or other official books, register or record, including electronic record stating a fact in issue or relevant fact and made by a public servant in the discharge of his official duty, by any other person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by the law of the country in which such book, register or record is kept, is itself admissible.”Per TUR, J.C.A. (Pp. 42-46, Paras. A-B)