Category: Newsletter

DESIST FROM CRIMINALIZING CIVIL CASES, PIP URGES SARS

The Chairman of the Presidential Investigation Panel (PIP) on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr. Tony Ojukwu has expressed concern on the activities of some security personnel whom he said exhibit a high level of unprofessional conduct in handling civil matters reported before them.

The Chairman who is also the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission noted that the unprofessional conduct of some of the law enforcement agents has contributed to congestion in Police cells, prisons and other detention centres across the country as civil cases are viewed as criminal matters leading to unnecessary detention of victims.

Ojukwu cautioned lawyers to always advise their clients against turning civil cases like breach of contract to criminal matters, so as not to jeopardize their integrity.

He also urged members of SARS to always act within the ambit of the law in discharging their official duties recalling that there are scores of petitions on human rights violations before the National Human Rights Commission against SARS.

In a related development, the Panel has ordered that a representative of the Governor of Gombe State who is a nominal complainant in the case of alleged, “Police gruesome torture and murder of John Okon between 8th -13th day of November, 2018”, to appear before it on Monday to give necessary information that could assist the Panel unearth the truth in the matter.

Mr. John Okon was alleged to have died on 13th day of November, 2018 as a result of serial multiply beatings and torture while in the custody SARS headed by one SP Jummai of Anti-Crime Department, Gabasawa, Police Headquarters Kaduna state.

The Panel also received a copy of an autopsy report on the deceased which was conducted by a team of experts led by Dr. Godwin Iko Ayuba. The report indicated that Mr. Okon died of anemic heart failure complicated by nutritional neglect and multiple traumatic injuries etc.

Similarly, the Panel charged some SARS members in Guzape Police station to ensure the safety of one Mr. Peter Akuje. He had earlier told the panel that he was afraid to return to his house for fear of arrest by the Police.

A complaint of criminal breach of trust and fraudulent conversion of fund was brought against Mr. Akuje for which he was allegedly detained and tortured unlawfully.

 

PRESIDENTIAL PANEL VISITS SARS.

The Presidential Panel on investigation of allegation of human rights violations by SARS has charged the Federal Government on the improvement of the detention facilities in the country.
The Chairman of the Panel Mr. Tony Ojukwu said that the on the spot inspection of the facilities revealed among other things, that there was inadequate feeding and lack of medical facilities for the inmates.

He also confirmed that some inmates were wrongfully detained for minor offences and have been in detention for years which resulted in congestion of the facilities. He added that there were also cases of physical torture by the Police.

He therefore, advised the Police to rise-up to the challenges by using intelligence led policing to unravel some cases as this could lead to speedy prosecution of cases.

He however commended the police for some improvements recorded especially in the area of sanitation which he noted have improved. For example, he observed that SARS detention facilities now have water system toilets as against pit toilets which was the case in the past.

 

ECOWAS COURT TO DELIVER ITS DECISION ON ALLEGED HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION CASE AGAINST THE LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT

The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice will on Wednesday, 6th February 2019 deliver judgement in a suit brought by Dexter Oil and Gas, a Liberian registered company, urging the Court to order the release of its 3 million dollars withheld by the government for on the ground of being a suspicious transaction.

In suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/24/17 filed on 28th June 2017, the plaintiff claimed that by withholding the said amount paid into its account with a bank in Liberia since November 2013, the government was in violation of the company’s right to possess and own property.

The company therefore wants the Court to hold that the continued withholding of the plaintiff’s fund violates its right to own property as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the ECOWAS Treaty among other legal documents.

It also urged the Court to order the release of the fund, the payment of 21% interest on the amount from November 2013 until the liquidation of the amount as well as the payment of another 50,000 dollars in favour of the plaintiff.

Judgment will be delivered by a three member panel of judge of the Court including Honorable Justices Edward Asante, Dupe Atoki, and Keikura Bangura.

Lagos 13 January 2019.

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) condemns the hurried charges filed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the head of the Nigerian judiciary, and calls on all lawyers to rise up and defend the judiciary from attack and destruction.

LEDAP recalls that this regime attacked and arrested some senior judges in 2016 upon frivolous charges that have all failed. The regime had also used the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal to attack the legislature on pretence of enforcing assets declaration laws against the Senate President. The code of conduct system located in the Presidency has therefore become the instrument for political emasculation of the other arms of government.

The executive attack on the Judiciary and Legislature, and of the political opposition, independent media and the civil society organisations in Nigeria, are clear indicators of a regime driving towards full dictatorship. All Nigerians must resist this prospect, and all lawyers and justice sector stakeholders must stand up against the attack on the judiciary.

LEDAP calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to call out all lawyers, judges and magistrates from the court to protest this unwarranted assault and desecration of the integrity and reputation of the judiciary by the politically motivated charges against the CJN.

The charges against the CJN at the Code of Conduct Tribunal are unlawful. The executive has no constitutional powers to discipline or charge any judge to court for a criminal offence unless the judge has been subjected to disciplinary procedure by the National Judicial Council (NJC). LEDAP filed a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja in October 2016 when some judges’ homes were raided and some of them arrested. We challenged the constitutionality of the arrests without prior reference to NJC. In 2017 in a similar suit, the court of appeal confirmed that only the NJC can discipline judicial officers or refer them for criminal prosecution. This was the case of Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391 (CA)

The charges against the CJN without reference to, and prior disciplinary actions of NJC, are grossly unlawful. The CCT as a vehicle for such unlawful enterprise, as an arm of the Presidency, contravene the principle of separation of powers under the 1999 Constitution.

We call on the Federal government to immediately withdraw the charges against the CJN, as well as the purported motion for order suspending him from office. The executive arm of government has no power for seek for such orders. We also call on the Hon Attorney General of the Federation to put a stop to this unconstitutional action and to allow caution and good sense to rule to avoid the erosion of judicial independence.

Chino Obiagwu SAN

Coordinator LEDAP.

Don’t Militarise Ogun State, CSO warns Political Actors Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

CSOs PICS

CSO

Adejoke Adeleye, Abeokuta

Ogun State Coalition of Civil Society Organizations, CSO, Pro-democracy and Human Rights Organizations have warned political jobbers not to militarise the state by calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police for security intervention ahead of February 16 and March 2nd 2019, elections.

The coalition which consist of over sixty civil society groups was led by comrade Folarin Olayinka in a press conference with newsmen at Nigeria Union of Journalists secretariat, Iweroyin, Abeokuta, described the writers of a letter which was titled “Letter to President Buhari: Save our Souls in Ogun State” as political jobbers who were ill-informed.

“We are here to straighten records and condemn the barbaric and untrue publication by some political jobbers in a letter titled ‘Letter to President Buhari: Save our souls in Ogun state’. The publication has revealed the writers were ill-informed acclaimed civil rights crusaders who suspiciously have traded truth and fairness for whatever cost. They incontrovertible chose to be economical with realities in Ogun State, especially the state security.

“We unanimously condemned the false alarms and claims over high rising of insecurity in Ogun state. It is far from the truth with spurious aim of condemning the uncompromising, reliable and responsive efforts of the command. We have done some findings and we have discovered that the political violence that has happened so far happened as a result of the mismanagement of their campaign process and violence from so extortionists.

“For the petition written to the presidency, we want to state clearly that our state still remain safe as ever before and all that has been written was written by unidentified elements sponsored by some unidentified individuals. it is imminent to recall that the Ogun State Police command in one of its efforts at preparing toward a peaceful conduct of 2019 elections organised a stakeholders and peace accord for all critical stakeholders unions amongst others.

“Each political party signed the peace accord document which was read to all stakeholders, the command used different forum to read the riot act and orientate the public on peaceful prior, during and post elections. What else could have been expected of the Nigerian police force other than measures that guarantees sustainable peace and maintenance of laws and order in Ogun state,” he said.

HEDA petitions ICPC, seeks prosecution of ex-Delta Assembly Deputy Speaker over alleged NECO certificate forgery.

The Human and Environmental Development Agenda  Resource Centre (HEDA), which is a non-governmental organization and non-partisan human rights and development league, has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission  (ICPC) to investigate and prosecute Mr. Osanebi Friday, the 2015 elected Honourable member of the Delta State House of Assembly, representing Ndokwa East constituency over allegation of forgery of National Examination Council        (NECO) certificate.

In a petition forwarded to the ICPC and signed by HEDA’ s chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the Resource Center said its requested action is pertinent to serve as deterrent to future law breakers, especially amongst the elites and supposed leaders who ought to lead by example.
HEDA said it took its cue for the investigation of the ex-lawmaker from an exclusive report in the publication of Sahara Reporters, an online Newspaper, dated the 24th day of December, 2018, where it was reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has withdrawn the Certificate of Return issued to Mr. Osanebi Friday, the 2015 elected Honourable member of the Delta State House of Assembly, representing Ndokwa East constituency and that same has been issued to Mr. Ozegbe Emeka who was validly nominated as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 elections.

The petition reads: “It was reported that in April 2018, a Delta State High Court, presided over by Honourable Justice V.I. Ofezi declared that Mr. Osanebi Friday lied on oath by submitting a forged NECO certificate and ordered the immediate swearing in of Mr. Ozegbe Emeka into the Delta State House of Assembly. 

“The report under reference stated that Mr. Osanebi Friday appealed against the judgement of the Delta State High Court to the Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division and the Court of Appeal ruled in upheld the decision of the High Court Judge, in favour of the respondent. It is further stated that he appealed to the Supreme court and the appeal before the apex court is yet to be heard.”

Quoting a section of the nation’s ground norm, HEDA said, “It is pertinent to state at this juncture that Section 106 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) provides for the requisite conditions to qualify an individual to be elected as a member of a State House of Assembly. Specifically, Section 106 (c) states that “he has been educated up to at least the School Certificate level or its equivalent”. Section 107(1) embodies the following that “No person shall be qualified for election to a House of Assembly if “and these sections enumerates from subsections (a-i) the said disqualifications.

“It was presumed that all the qualifications in Section 106 (a-d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 was duly complied with which was why he was successful elected in as honourable member of the Delta State House of Assembly. And it was believed that Mr. Osanebi Friday was not in breach of the provisions of Section 107 (1)(a-I) specifically, Section 107(1)(I).

“Section 107(1)(I) states that “no person shall be qualified for election to a House of Assembly if he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission”. Mr. Osanebi Friday was elected during the 2015 general election to the Delta State House of Assembly as a honourable member based on the information he presented to the INEC, and INEC believing same to be true.

“And as reported under reference, Mr. Osanebi Friday did present his NECO Certificate but same is alleged to be fake and it is also alleged that no such certificate was found in the Secondary School he claimed to have attended, Orogu Grammar School, Orogu, Ughelli North local government area.

“The law is not silent on the offences alleged; forgery and perjury are encapsulated in the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 in Sections 463-466 defines the forgery as an offence while Section 467 prescribes the sentence of three years imprisonment; Section 117 of the same law defines the offence of Perjury and Section 118 prescribes the punishment to be 14 years imprisonment.

“We are an organization desirous to see transparency, accountability and good governance in our nation. We are therefore keen on seeing the law not only obeyed to the letter but also diligently enforced in the case of breach, which is why we believe critically that an immediate investigation should be carried out in this particular case.  The case is said to have moved from the High Court to the Supreme Court hence, a public record which can be searched and obtained to aid investigation.

“Your Commission is empowered to investigate and prosecute suspects for alleged offences within the purview of the law. Based on the foregoing, we request that you use your good offices to investigate Mr. Osanebi Friday for corruptly manipulating the system through forgery, perjury with the view to prosecuting the stated offences and recover all monies and benefits received by him as an honourable member and Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. We therefore demand that the law takes its full      course.

“The requested action is pertinent to serve as deterrent to future law breakers, especially amongst the elites and supposed leaders who ought to lead by example. This is with a view to stemming the menace that rapidly ravaging our political landscape and society,” HEDA said.

•It’s plot to cow judges ahead of elections — NBA •Due process shouldn’t be short-circuited in move to try CJN — Saraki

  • Tread with caution, Dogara tells FG; •FG heating the polity — Ohanaeze
  • CSOs ask FG to withdraw charges against CJN •Onnoghen’s case may overshadow NJC’s meeting—Member • Afe Babalola, Owonikoko, Adegboruwa react

ABUJA—The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of deliberately intimidating judges in a bid to emasculate the judiciary before the 2019 general elections.

This is even as Senate president, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, advised the Federal Government to ensure that its plans to put on trial the CJN, Walter Onnoghen does not cause chaos in the judicial system and that due process was not compromised. The NBA in a statement signed by its National President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, decried what it described as a “pattern of consistent assault” on both the Judiciary and the Legislature by agencies of the Federal Government. From left: Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade; Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, addressing pressmen on planned arraignment of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen in Abuja. Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan.

While condemning plans by government to arraign the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, over alleged failure to declare his assets, the NBA warned that continuing attacks on the justice sector must stop. It wondered why the federal government decided to deviate from the laid down and explicit provisions of the law as expounded in the case of Nganjiwa v FRN, by slamming a criminal charge against the CJN without recourse to the National Judicial Council, NJC. The statement read: “The Nigerian Bar Association unequivocally condemns this assault, intimidation and desecration of the Judiciary by FGN agencies and demands that it be stopped immediately. “In Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA), the Court of Appeal made it very clear that any misconduct attached to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and handled by the National Judicial Council (“NJC”) pursuant to the provisions of our laws. “Only after the NJC has pronounced against such judicial officer can the prosecuting agencies of the Federal Government proceed against him. ‘’As the court pointed out, these requirements of the law are anchored on the overriding principles of separation of powers between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature and on the need to preserve, promote and protect  the independence of the judiciary.

“Our respective liberties and the rule of law are best protected and preserved if the judiciary remains independent and shielded from intimidation and assault by the other arms of the government. “In Nganjiwa v FRN (supra), the Court of Appeal made reference to Rule 3 of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of February 2016 (“Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers”) and held that the said Rule 3 “makes provision in relation to fidelity to the Constitution and the  Law.

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Henry Ojelu

The Nigerian Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2002 (MLPA) was enacted at a period when money laundering was synonymous with drug trafficking.

The Nigerian Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2002 (MLPA) was enacted at a period when money laundering was synonymous with drug trafficking. Consequently, the law sought basically to prohibit gains obtained from narcotic drugs and other       psychotropic substances.
With the advancement in information technology, commercial relations and crimes arising from them, it has become expedient to expand the scope of the law to meet circumstances and transactions not contemplated at the time.
Addressing these issues in their jurisdictions, South Africa enacted the Prevention of Organized Crimes Act (POCA) in 1998; England enacted the Proceeds of Crimes Act (POCA) in 2002; In the USA, the PATRIOT Act was enacted in 2001 all aimed at stemming the menace of organized crime as well as empowering agencies to do so. The lapses of the MLPA were laid bare with the recent conviction of some of the associates of the former governor of Delta State of money laundering charges by the Southwark Crown Court in London. It would be recalled that these same persons together with their other acolytes at large in Nigeria were arraigned in 2008 before the Federal High Court in Delta State but the charges against them were quashed following their counsel’s application that given the ejusdem generis rule of interpretation of the MLPA, the accused persons had not engaged in any financial dealings relating to narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. However, the recent conviction obtained on similar charges in England is partly attributable to the comprehensiveness of English Law on money laundering.
It is beyond questions that the MLPA needs an overhaul if its original purpose is ever to be met. The language used in the MLPA is unduly restrictive and should be broadened to effectively tackle the multidimensional issues that necessarily arise in proceeds of crime cases. In this regard, the scope should very well go beyond property obtained from dealings in narcotic drugs and the like but should also incorporate kidnapping, human trafficking, blackmail, conspiracy and all money or property derived from crimes or illegal acts.
Furthermore, Nigeria lawmakers could borrow from the English POCA and create specific agencies to enforce the MLPA. In addition, such agency should be empowered to recover and confiscate assets that were acquired with the proceeds of the crime.
It might also be necessary to introduce the concept of “criminal lifestyle” which purport would be to place a burden on anyone convicted of the offenses under the MLPA to show that his properties are not the proceeds of that crime, otherwise, they would be forfeited.
The provision of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provision) CAP R4 LFN 2004 is commended however because of the weak enforcement framework in Nigeria, most cases that would have been prosecuted under it are allowed to go unnoticed and they never make it to the courts.

Ms. Chinwe Uwakwe
Ms. Uwakwe is an Associate at Blackfriars LLP