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Not Guilty

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A plea of not guilty means you believe you have not violated the law. It also means that there was not sufficient evidence to determine that you committed the crime. Everyone charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent, until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence (Article II of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
The presumption of innocence is the legal principle in criminal cases that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. It is sometimes referred to by the latin expression Ei Incumbit protatio qui dicit, non qui negat (The burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies). In many nations, the presumption of innocence is the right of the accused in a criminal trial. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact (ie the judge or magistrate), who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible. And in most cases lawfully obtained that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
In practice, the presumption of innocence is animated by the requirement that the government proves the charges against the defendant BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. This due process requirement is a fundamental tenet of our criminal justice system. It is contained in statutes and judicial opinion like Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until he is proven guilty. This provision of the constitution has been grossly violated by members of the Nigeria Police Force who in discharge of their duties have arrested peaceful protesters and subject them to inhuman treatment without a court of competent jurisdiction, declaring them guilty of any crime. A good reference is last Saturdays #Occupy Lekki Toll Gate# protest.
In the past and now, some suspects have been paraded as armed robbers in various media when they are yet to be declared guilty of the crime they were suspected of, by a court of competent jurisdiction. Under the administration of justice in Nigeria an accused person is presumed to be innocent. In most jurisdiction, across the globe, prosecutions are not allowed to predicate their allegation on mere suspicion. There must be an overwhelming evidence. It follows therefore that the prosecution must prove each element of a crime to which an accused is charged beyond reasonable doubt. In State V. Ajayi (2016) LPELR 40663 (SC), Okoro JSC at Page 50 held thus:
“It is trite that in criminal proceedings, the onus is always on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and the prosecution will readily achieve this result by ensuring that all the necessary and vital ingredients of the charge or charges are proved by evidence. See Yango Vs COP (1992) 4 SCNJ113, (1992) LPELR – 3528 (SC), Uche Nilliams V. the State (1992) 10SCNJ 74. It must be noted that under our system of criminal justice,an accused person is presumed innocent until he is proved guilty and the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. See Okputuobiode & Ors, V. The State (1970) All NLR 35, (1970) LPELR – 2524 (SC).”
In spite of plethora of cases in this regard many have suffered undue hardship, molestation and harassment before they are charged to court.
Today Nigeria ranks as one of the countries with the lowest respect for the rule of law. Our democracy is laughable, because the baseline requirement for democracy anywhere in the world is respect for the rule of law, which we no longer have. God help us.

 

By: Nkechi Bright-Ewere

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City Crime

Sustaining Existing Peace In ONELGA

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Security is one area that leaders of all tiers of government must address their minds to. This is because government originated from the desire of the bourgeoisie to secure their property from the commoners.
Consequently, one of the fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
Most importantly, the present situation in the country calls for concerted efforts by all and sundry to ensure that law-abiding citizens of the federation were safe.
Interestingly, less than 24 hours from now, chief security officers of the 23 local government councils executive in the Rivers State will be sworn in by the executive governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike.
It is expected that the council chairmen will complement the robust security architecture already fixed by the governor. The proactiveness of the state chief executive has paid handsomely as the level of security in the state has been beefed up. This is exemplified by the short fall in security challenges.
Many people who spoke with The Tide on their expectations from the council chairman across the state harped on the need to battle insecurity.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, a business operator and resident of Omoku, Mrs Patience Ndidi (Nee Obuah), who spoke on behalf of the business community urged the incoming chairman to sustain the existing peace in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the State.
She described the chairman-elect, Hon. Vincent Job as a trusted leader as well as epitome of what a leader should be.
Mrs Ndidi expressed hope that the incoming chairman would sustain the existing peace in the area. According to her, “the peace we are enjoying today must be sustained even as we pray for him”.
Also speaking, an elder statesman in the area, Chief Ono Eze Obi, said, “my expectation is for the chairman elect to accord the security of lives and property a priority because our people must stay alive to enjoy the dividends of democracy.”
He noted that insecurity had relegated the local government to the background which they did not want to recur.
“We expect the incoming chairman to tackle security holistically by partnering with relevant stakeholders, security operatives, especially the local government vigilante called ONELGA Security Planning and Advisory Committee (OSPAC),” he stated
“Hon Vincent Job understands administration especially at this level. He is assuming this exalted office at this critical time in our history, when insecurity has been a great source of worry to all and sundry.”
Hon Azubuike Awuya, a youth leader in Obrikom stated.
“He should act like a desired messiah in this regard. I can assure you our people will be pleased with his administration; Hon. Awuya noted.
Another person, who spoke with The Tide, the female youth leader, Hon. Sarah Woko, said the blueprint conveyed by Hon Vincent Job during his electoral campaign received wide acceptance.
She averred that the blueprint had given them the assurance of peace and tranquility in the area.
She said, “the security architecture must be adequately strengthened to further boost both economic and social activities of our people.
Also speaking, a farmer residing in ONELGA, Mr Ossai Tony, noted ,” I join other farmers to plead with the incoming chairman to ensure farmers could conveniently go to their farms without security threats. We give kudos to ONELGA OSPAC. They are the reason farmers can carry out their legitimate business, so we expect him to sustain it.
A trader, Mr Okechukwu Nwokocha who spoke with The Tide noted,” I must thank you for this opportunity. A lot of expectations but the one that concerns us is that of security. Since the arrival of OSPAC business activities have grown steadily. We operate freely without molestation. The only thing he can do for us is the sustenance of security, peace and order. We will be grateful to him”, he said.
It would be recalled that ONELGA was the hotbed of crisis during the era of late Don Wani, the cult kingpin that relegated the LGA to the background. The killing of Don Wani and the formation of OSPAC were two things that brought a new lease of life to residents of the area.
The issue of reliving the horrible and ugly experiences of the pre-OSPAC days has often assailed the minds of ONELGA residents, little wonder then that everyone craves for the sustenance of the security apparatus in the area.
Before OSPAC was formed, many ONELGA communities had been deserted. Raping of women and girls was commonplace. Killings, decapitation and selling of body parts were the order of the day.
Don Wani was the notorious dictator in the entire local government area.
It would be pertinent therefore for successive council administrations in the area to sustain peace so that there should be no relapse into the horrors of the past.
Ralph Echefu is a public affairs analyst, based in Port Harcourt.

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City Crime

Whether Rent Is Refundable

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A Tenancy Agreement is a contract between a landlord and the tenant which sets out the rights and obligations of both the landlord and the tenant when renting property in Nigeria. Both landlord and tenant have something called implied rights in all tenancy relationships whether or not a tenancy agreement exists. However, a tenancy agreement is important because it provides further protection for both the landlord and the tenant, and it expands on the implied rights.
As the tenancy agreement is a contract between two parties, the landlord and the tenant, the tenant has the right to review the terms of the tenancy agreement to determine whether or not the agreement protects his/her interests.
As a landlord or a tenant, you need to ensure that your tenancy agreement includes the following terms and information at a minimum:

  • The names and addresses of the landlord and the Tenant and the address of the property
  • The start date and end date of the tenancy
  • How much the rent will be
  • Other applicable amounts including legal fees, agency fees, security deposits, service charges/fees etc as applicable.
  • The obligation of both the landlord and the tenant.
  • An outline of bills the tenant is responsible for.
    The above list is not exhaustive, these and more terms that are frequently included in well-drafted tenancy Aaeements. It is advisable therefore, that a well drafted tenancy agreement is signed by both parties.
    Having established the fact that a tenancy is a contract, it must be noted that breaking it at will does not entitle the tenant any refund. In simple terms, there is no refund of rent after payment. If the tenancy surrenders before the contract is executed, the Landlord may return the amount gained which was let out during the subsistence of the tenancy which was surrendered, apart from that; a tenant is not entitled to refund. See Abdurahman V. Thomas (2019) 12 NWLR (PT 1685) 107 SC @ 129, Nig Con Holding Com. Ltd V. Owayele (1988) 4 NWLR (PT 90) 588 @ 603.
    The mere fact that the tenant returned key does not mean rescission of the tenancy. When tenants returns key before the expiration of his tent, he is not entitled to refund of rent except the property was let out, and it is only for the remainder of the period let out and paid for by the new tenant within the period under by the old tenant.
    In other words, your tenancy will continue to subsist in the apartment until it is let to a new tenant. Once the place is let after you have vacated (and before the expiration of your tenancy), you are then refunded for the unexpired term.
  • By: Nkechi Bright-Ewere
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City Crime

Five Friends In Court For Abduction, Robbery

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An FCT High Court, Kubwa, has fixed July 5 for the definite hearing in a case against five friends.
Justus Alex, Victor Alex, Marcus Eze, Asogwa Johnson and John Ofor face four counts of armed robbery and abduction filed by the police.
Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya fixed the date after prosecution counsel, Sadiq Haruna, announced he had made rearrangements with the court registrar to serve the defendants’ sureties.
The sureties could not be served due to the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) strike.
The defendants are accused of robbing one Theophilus Kelechi and three others of five phones, one digital camera and N50,000 cash at Nandu Plaza, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja on October 15, 2019.
They also allegedly abducted Chief Benard Nwora from his office at Suite 52 of the same plaza and took him to Ado village in Nasarawa.
According to the prosecution, they demanded N50 million ransom from his wife, Bethel.
The police recovered two pistols, six live cartridges without licence, from the friends in Ado on October 16, 2019.
Their offences contravened the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Robbery and Firearms Special Provision Act Cap 398 LFN 1990 and Section 273 of the Penal Code.
All the suspects have pleaded not guilty.

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