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FG Advised To Declare a State of Emergency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System

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The Federal Government has been advised to declare a state of emergency in the administration of criminal justice system.

The advice is one of the recommendations of Policy Advocacy Conference on decongestion of Correctional Centres in the Country, organized by the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba, Lagos Metropolitan Council, as part of activities marking its diamond jubilee.

The conference brought together top management of the correctional service, the police, the Judiciary; including the Department of Public Prosecution, High Court Judges and Magistrates as well as lawyers.

While welcoming participants, the Metro Grand Knight, Sir William Adebisi who explained that the conference was aimed at sensitizing, educating and compelling government agencies to implement policies for sound management of Correctional centres in the country, noted that statistics from the Ministry of Interior show that congestion at Correctional centres was due to the high number of awaiting trial inmates.

“In our view, a more constructive approach would be a declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria criminal justice system with programmes and initiatives rolled out to tackle the slow pace of justice delivery. This should be done to reduce awaiting trial population, many of whom have spent eight years or more awaiting trial” he said.

Also Read: CJN Urges Judicial Officers To Keep To The Rules

Sir Adebisi said over the years, the Knights of St Mulumba had been involved in activities at Correctional services, including legal interventions, the payment of WAEC fees of inmates and other financial assistance up to an average expenditure of 500,000 naira monthly.

In a message, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, the Most Reverend Alfred Adewale Martins, described congestion of the Centres as worrisome and a reflection of the moral decadence in the society, noting that it would continue to rise if necessary measures are not taken now.

The Archbishop who was represented by Monsignor Pascal Nwezeagu recommended a number of solutions, beginning from the family unit.

“It says a lot about the value we have placed on human life and as long as things continue to go this way, we will continue to have this problem, so, the solution is that, we need to fix human beings, and we need to ask how to do this by fixing the family, because individuals come from families, how do we fix education in Nigeria and beyond that, we need to promote justice, show more love, more concern for the well being of others, even though we won’t have zero crimes, but we can reduce the rate of crime significantly” the Archbishop advised.

During the panel discussions on causes of congestion and workable solutions, participants made recommendations including, suspended sentencing, Community sentencing and dismissal of minor cases of inmates who had spent over five years in custody.

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In a keynote address, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who was represented by one of his Special Advisers, Mr Suleiman Tala, noted that even though the NCOS cannot reject inmates sent to custodial centres, the Federal government had been taking steps to tackle prison congestion from many angles.

Buttressing this, the Comptroller-General of Corrections, Mr Haliru Nababa who was represented by an Assistant Comptroller General, Daniel Odharo pointed out that solving the challenge requires a multi-sectoral approach.

Acknowledging the blame placed on the police for prolonged trial, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba stated that he had implemented a number of measures to speed up the process.

The IGP who was represented by the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr Hakeem Odumosu listed the measures to include adoption of technology at interrogation rooms, monitoring of prosecution witnesses and establishment of a pool of Police prosecutors and legal minded personnel.

“Inconsistency in the appearance of Police Officer’s to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonged trials, disciplinary actions are being taken against officers who does this. Bearing in mind that many underlining factors create bottlenecks for speedy dispensation of justice, the Police as a component of the administration of criminal justice, will continuously work in synergy with other components to achieve the desired objectives” the IGP said

He described the conference as a step in the right direction and recommended more like it in addressing the challenges of congestion of Correctional Centres across the country

Omolara Omosanya

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Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

CRIME

PHCN N6bn Insurance Benefit Fraud: EFCC Arraigns Cecilia Osipitan

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Justice U. P. Kekemeke of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, has granted the Managing Director of PJO Ventures Limited, Cecilia Osipitan N500million bail with two sureties in like sum.

The judge gave the bail ruling shortly after her arraignment along with PJO and Insurance Resource and Consultancy Services Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

EFCC had filed nine-count charges against the defendants which borders on criminal breach of trust, conspiracy and conversion of public funds to the tune of six billion naira.

According to EFCC, the money was meant for the payment of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Read Also: N322m Laundering: Senator Nwaoboshi Trial Resumes December 10

Osipitan’s offence was said to have contravened Section 311 of the Panel Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (Abuja) 2004 and punishable under Section 312 of the same Act.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the nine counts charges levelled against them.

Ruling on the bail application, the judge noted that the sureties must be federal civil servant, a religious leader or a member of the National Assembly residing and own landed properties in Abuja.

The matter was subsequently adjourned till January 20, 2022 for commencement of trial.

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PDP National VC (South-South), Reps Member Restrain from Convention

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Justice Joy Okeaya-Inneh of the Edo State High Court in Benin City has gave a restrain order against the National Vice Chairman (South-South) of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Dan Orbih and the State Secretary of the party, Hilary Otsu from participating in the forthcoming Convention of the party scheduled for October 30th and 31st 2021.

The judge granted the interim injunction while ruling on a motion ex-parte filed by Chief Idehen Manfred Ekundayo, Mr. Stanley Iduoze and Odior Omadimhe (Claimants) in the suit marked B/218/os/2021.

Hon. Samuel Saiki, Vincent Ekpomhoriri Umoru, Leslie Ebozoje, David Okoh Aigbodion (also known as Arizona) and Abdulkareem Kassim were listed as Defendants in the suit.

Others defendants are Kayode Ogunubi, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide Ihama (House of Representatives member representing Oredo Federal Constituency), Mr. Oduwa Igbinosun and Mr. Friday Enaruna, excluding the PDP which was also listed as 12th Defendant in the suit.

Justice Okeaya-Inneh restrained them from attending, participating, or voting at the National Convention of the PDP herein to elect members of its National Working Committee, NWC or an other Governing body, which Convention is fixed for the 30th and 31st of October 2021 or fixed for any any other date, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

Read Also: Ondo Tribunal Throws Out PDP Petition Against Akeredolu

The court also granted “an order of interim injunction, directing PDP, its servants, Officers, agents, or otherwise whosoever to deny admittance to the Defendants at the National Convention or any other day

Justice Okeaya-Inneh ordered PDP to ensure that the Defendants do not vote or participate in any shape or form at the National Convention pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

According to the enrolment order of the court, the judge granted leave to the Claimants to serve the concurrent originating summons on PDP, outside the jurisdiction of the court at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, namely at the National Headquarters of the Party being Plot 1970 Michael Okpara street, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja.

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The court also granted leave to the Claimants/Applicants to serve the originating summons and all other accompanying processes in the suit on all the Defendants by substituted means, to wit, by Advertisement in a National Newspaper.

The court cited the salient pressing issues raised in the processes before the court and ordered an accelerated hearing of the Motion-On-Notice.

The court further directed the Bailiff of the court to effect service as a matter of urgency of “all the processes in the suit on all the Defendants.

Justice Okeaya-Inneh subsequently fixed November 2, 2021 to entertain the suit.

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CRIME

Former NSITF Board Chairman, Olejeme Trial Begins November 8

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Justice Maryam Hassan of Abuja (FCT) High Court sitting in Jabi has fixed November 8, for commencement of trial of the former board chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Ngozi Olejeme.

The judge gave the date shortly after delivering ruling over her bail application which allows her to continue to enjoy the administrative bail conditions already granted to her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Justice Maryam Hassan in addition to the ruling directed that the travel documents of the defendant be submitted at the court’s registry.

Ngozi Olejeme was arraigned before the court by EFCC on nine-count charges which borders on mismanagement, giving a false statement, taking a kickback from contracts, and diversion of NSITF funds into personal accounts and companies she had an interest in.

According to EFCC, Olejeme committed the offence between 2012 and 2015 when she was the board chairman of the NSITF.

Read Also: Bariga Housemaid Murder Controversy; Couple File File No-Case Submission

The anti-graft agency noted that the offence contravened the provisions of sections 8,19 (1) (b) (1), punishable under the Corrupt Practice & other Related Offence Act 2000 and Section 17, (1) (2), 39 of EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004 and punishable under the same section.

However, Olejeme pleaded not guilty to all the counts charge preferred against her.

Subsequently, her counsel, Mr. Paul Erokoro, SAN, applied for bail on self recognition or in the alternative, in the most liberal terms.

He said the bail application was predicated on medical grounds as the defendant has been diabetic and hypertensive for thirty years.

In a counter reaction, EFCC Counsel, Mr. Steve Odiase, who did not opposed the bail application however, opposed to granting of bail on self recognition.

He said that there was no consideration for bail on self recognition in Section 165 (1) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

He urged the court to grant the defendant bail with reasonable surety.

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