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Unprecedented judicial events of 2018

Justice Walter Onnoghen, CJN

The outgoing year, 2018 witnessed a lot of unprecedented events that will for long remain a reference point in the country’s justice sector. Some of these events are highlighted below:

Nyame, Dariye sentenced to prison, lose post-sentence appeals

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Former governors Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Joshua Dariye of Plateau State joined the thin league of former governors convicted and sentenced to prison terms by the court. Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the FCT High Court had on May 30 and June 12, 2018 sentenced Dariye to 14 years imprisonment each.

But the former governors filed a post-sentence appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja. The court presided by Justice Emmanuel Akomaye-Agim on November 16 reduced Nyame’s term from 14 to 12 years and Dariye’s term from 14 to 10 years. Nyame was also ordered to pay additional fine of N500m in line with Section 315 of the ACJA Act.

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Senior lawyer bags one-month jail term over corruption

On April 30, 2018 Joseph Nwobike (SAN) was convicted to one-month prison term for bribing a judge of a Lagos High Court in a first of criminal charges against senior lawyers in the year 2018. He was also stripped of the privileges of his rank.

Controversy greets Buhari’s Executive Order 6 and travel ban

President Muhammadu Buhari in July, 2018 signed the Executive Order No 6 to seize assets of suspected corrupt individuals until the conclusion of investigation and prosecution against them. The order also imposes travel ban on more than 50 Nigerians facing corruption charges.

But the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and Coalition of United Progressives Party (CUPP) criticized the move. CUPP on October 16, 2018 appealed the decision of an Abuja Federal High Court, which in October, 2018 upheld the president’s powers to make the order.

Three ex-CJNs, ex-PCA, four others die in 2018

2018 witnessed the death of three former Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJN). Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who was CJN between 2011 and 2012, died on January 23, 2018 aged 75.

The death was followed by that of Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, who was aged 76. He was CJN from 2007 to 2009.

His death was also followed by that of former CJN, Justice Idris Kutigi, who was CJN between 2009 and 2011. He was aged 78.

The year also saw the death of former President of Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Mustapha Akanbi. The jurist, who held office between 1992 and 1999 and became pioneer chairman of ICPC, died on June 3, 2018 at 85.

The year also witnessed the deaths former Supreme Court justices: Justice Saifullahi Coomasie, 71; Justice Pius Olayiwola Aderemi, 79; Justice Dennis Edozie and Justice Ikechi Ogbuagu, 78.

Alleged misconduct forces lawyer’s removal from list of 31 new SANs

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ikhide Ehighelua, for gross abuse of court process in September, 2018. Ehighelua was initially on the list of the 31 new SANs announced by the he Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) before his nomination was withdrawn for his role in several cases in Delta State, leaving the persons to be conferred with only 30 SANs.

Dasuki withdraws self from further trial

When on November 13, 2018 the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki wrote an Abuja Federal High Court declining to further submitting himself to trial in the five-counts charges worth $2bn.

The Federal Government’s prosecutors however applied to continue his trial in absentia.

Court revokes Kalu’s bail

Former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu had his bail revoked by a Federal High Court in Lagos in November, 2018 over his absence from court in the N7.6bn corruption charges.

Justice Mohammed Idris made the decision despite complaint by defence counsel, Awa Kalu (SAN) that Kalu was then undergoing surgery in Germany.

Senator Abaribe, others made to forfeit N300m bail bonds for Kanu

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and three others who stood as sureties to leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu were on November 14, 2018 made to temporarily forfeit the N300m bail bonds deposited with the court for his release.

Justice Binta Nyako however gave the sureties till March 28, 2019 to show why the forfeiture would not be made absolute to the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) following Kanu’s absence to face his charges of conspiracy to commit treasonable felony alongside four others.

Former Ekiti gov, Fayose arraigned, bailed

Former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose was finally arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Federal High Court in Lagos on 11-counts charge over alleged money laundering to the tune of N6.9bn in October, 2018. He was awarded N50m bail bonds.

This followed a long-drawn battle with the EFCC, which had on September 18, 2018 placed him travel ban. The governor on October 16 turned himself in to the anti-graft agency’s offices in Abuja from where he was moved to Lagos for arraignment.

Arraignment of NBA president, Usoro

For the first time, a president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro (SAN) was arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos on December 19, 2018 over allegations of money laundering valued at N1.4 billion. He was arraigned alongside Governor Udom Emmanuel, who is covered by immunity; Nsikan Nkan, Commissioner for Finance; Mfon Udomah, Accountant General General of the Federation; and Uwemedimo Nwoko, Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice; and one Margaret Thompson Ukpe.

US based lawyer remanded in prison

A disrobed US-based lawyer, Emeke Ugwuonye was on October 19 remanded to prison custody by a Chief Magistrates’ Court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja for fabricating false evidence and giving false information with intent to mislead a public servant.

Court of Appeal voids anti-corruption panel’s powers

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on November 5 nullified the prosecutorial powers of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) headed by Okoi Obono Obla.

But despite the five-member panel of judges presided by Justice Husseini Mukhtar’s decision that the SPIP has no power to apply for forfeiture of properties and was acting contrary to its powers contained in Section 4(4) of the Recovery of Properties Special Provisions Act, the panel had on December 18, 2018, the panel announced travel ban on some high-profile individuals including Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Kashamu’s PDP faction receives Supreme Court’s nod

The Supreme Court on December 5, 2108 refused to stay the execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos which recognised the Adebayo Dayo-led executive committee in Ogun State, which is backed by Senator Buruji Kashamu.

A five-man panel led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour struck out the application seeking both an order for stay of execution of the judgment and another for accelerated hearing of the appeal after it was voluntarily withdrawn by the applicant, the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee of the PDP.

 

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