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Missing N35m: Defence Counsel’s Ill-Health Stalls Trial Of JAMB Official

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The trial of Yakubu Jekada, one of the accused persons charged with  the misappropriation of N35 million belonging to  JAMB, was stalled in an FCT High Court, Maitama, due to the defendant counsel’s ill-health.
Jekada was first arraigned on May 31, 2018 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Peter Affen of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja.
He was arraigned on a four count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust and dishonest use of JAMB funds to the tune of N11.189 million.
The JAMB official was accused of committing criminal breach of trust while being JAMB state coordinator for Plateau between 2009 and 2016 when he was entrusted with 11, 189 units of e-facility cards belonging to the Board which he disposed without duly rendering accounts to the Board.
On the resumed sitting on Tuesday, the Prosecution Counsel, Mr Ekene Iheanacho, informed the court that the matter was for continuation of trial and he was with his two witnesses.
Responding, Mr Gyang Zi, counsel to Jekada, prayed for an adjournment.
“I took ill yesterday before I left Jos. I am feeling funny, and I went to get some drugs thinking it would help me out.
“But it continued, I sincerely apologise for the inconveniences it would cause the court and others, including the witnesses,” Zi said.
Iheanacho said that the learned counsel has presented a sympathetic picture before the court based on health.
“So, we will not be objecting to his application for adjournment,” Iheanacho said.
After listening to the lawyers, Justice Peter Affen adjourned the matter until March 3, for continuation of trial.

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Law/Judiciary

Police Move To Curb Criminality In Rivers Community

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The police authorities in Igwuruta, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State have put measures in place to introduce town Hall meetings among communities in the area.
The Tide investigation at the weekend revealed that the monthly town hall meetings are geared towards curbing crime in the area as well repositioning the Divisional Police Headquarters.
The move, we learnt was part of the policy thrust of the Rivers State Police Commissioner, CP Mustapha Dan-Daura.
The Tide also learnt that the new Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Dike Uchechi has distributed and shared telephone directory to the public to call when in distress. Other measures include partnership and synergy with the relevant stakeholders in the community which would go a long way in rebuilding public confidence in the police.
A police officer who craved anonymity described the monthly town hall meeting as timely and praised the new DPO for the efforts aimed at improving security in the area.
He expressed hope that Igwuruta community would cooperate to enable him succeed. “Within the short period he has stayed, we have seen changes, zero tolerance on crime, respect for human rights and diligence to duty as well as some other commendable qualities which speak volume about the DPO. As a community, we shall give him all the necessary assistance and support to succeed in his new assignment including information sharing. The cordial relationship existing between the division and it has been superb just within some weeks he assumed office. We commend the police commissioner for given us a diligent, hardworking officer who has shown passion in policing the community and people can now sleep.

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Law/Judiciary

Judges And Judgements

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In deserving cases and circumstances one judge may read the judgement written by another judge of the same court who is unavoidably not available to deliver the said judgement. See Rasaki Yunusa V. Madam Suwebatu Otun (1967) LLR. However, this statement of law applies only upon fulfillment of certain conditions. The conditions where a judge of a High Court can read the judgement of another judge are as stated in the case of WULGE V. OLAYINKA & ORS (2017). 43356 (CA) Per Abiru, JCA thus: “It is settled law that in deserving circumstances; there is nothing wrong with one judge reading the judgement written by a fellow judge of the same court who is unavoidably not available to deliver it ……..”
Case law authorities however suggest that this ability of a judge to read the judgement written by another judge who is unavoidably absent last only as long as the judge who wrote the judgement remained in service of the same court and that where the absence of the judge is by reason of elevation to a higher bench, death, dismissal or retirement. It will be incompetent for a judge to read the judgement written by the absent judge from the date of the occurrence of the event causing the absence. See Edibi V. The State (2009) L PELLR – 8702 (CA), Attorney General of the Federation V. All Nigeria Peoples Party (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt 844) 600; IPC (Nig) Ltd V. Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (2015) LPELR – 24652 (CA).
The only exception to this position of the law appears to be that created by the provision of section 294 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in respect of the judgements of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal only. Section 294 (2) promotes that “each justice of the Supreme Court or of the Court of Appeal shall express and deliver his opinion in writing or may state in writing that he adopts the opinion of any other justice who deliver a written opinion; Provided that it shall not be necessary for all the justice who heard a cause or matter to be present when judgement is to be delivered and the opinion of a justice may be pronounced or read by any other justice whether or not he was present at the hearing.”
Therefore, with respect to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, a written opinion or judgement written by one member of panel can be read by either another member of panel who participated in the hearing of the appeal or any other justice of the court. See Shittabey v. Attorney General of the Federation (1998) 10 NWLR (Pt. 570) 392. Note that this does not apply to the judge of the High Court. In Shua’ Ibu V. The State (2019) LPELR- 46688 (CA) Karuta J. read the judgement purportedly written and signed by Hon. Justice Mairaga who as at the time the judgement was read has ceased to be a judicial officer, having been retired as the chief judge of Kebbi State. And had no vires to write or sign any judgement. Also the court noted that Karatu J. who read the judgement was a complete stranger to the case and lacked competence to write a judgement based on the recorded evidence of witnesses by a different judge.
In Sokoto State Government V. Kamdex (Nig) Ltd (2007) LPELR – 3093 (SC) the Supreme Court held that “a judicial officer who had not sat in court in that capacity to exercise the jurisdiction of the court in hearing a matter cannot have the capacity in law to sit in court and write a judgement or opinion to determine a dispute which he did not participate in the hearing.

 

Nkechi Bright Ewere

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EFCC Arraigns Bank Staff For Stealing Customer’s N12.6m

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday arraigned a staff of Polaris Bank, formerly Skye Bank Plc, Babatunde Keshinro, in an Ikeja Special Offences Court for allegedly stealing N12.6 million belonging to a customer.
The EFCC charged Keshinro with nine counts bordering on theft, forgery and fraudulent use of account.
The EFCC Counsel, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, said that the Polaris Bank staff committed the offence from 2016 to 2018 in Lagos.
Buhari alleged that Keshinro stole funds belonging to one Alhaji Ganiyu Oseni, whose account he managed.
“The defendant knowingly forged Baritos Nigeria Ltd’s document titled “Part Termination of Fixed Deposit – 1770522625 dated December 12, 2016 and purported to have been signed and issued by Oseni.
“Sometime in August 2018, Keshinro forged a Skye bank cheque number 47423262 dated August 16, 2018 in the sum of N340,000 which was purportedly signed and issued by Oseni.
“In May 2017, he forged a Skye bank cheque with number 35744848 dated May 22, 2017 for the sum of N303,000 also purportedly issued by Oseni.
“Another Skye bank cheque with number 35744834 in the sum of N971,000 also purportedly issued by the complainant,” she said.
According to the EFCC prosecutor, the defendant also forged three more Skye bank cheques which he fraudulently claimed were signed by Oseni.
The anti-graft agency alleged that on June 2018 Keshinro forged a cheque 47423247 dated June 12, 2018 for the sum of N410,000.
In April 2018 he allegedly forged a cheque with number 47423248 dated April 20, 2018 in the sum of N225,000.
Keshinro on July 2018 also allegedly forged a cheque eque with number 47423256.

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