Alleged Defamation: Court stops CUPP Spokesperson’s trial

 An FCT  A  High Court has stopped a Wuse Zone II Chief Magistrates’ Court from proceeding with the case filed by the Inspector-General of Police against Ikenga Ugochinyere,  Spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP).Delivering judgment on Monday in Abuja, Justice Binta Mohammed  restrained the Wuse Chief Magistrate, Idayat Olaide (the 5th defendant),  from further conducting the trial against Ugochinyere on the grounds she lacked jurisdiction.

defendants in the suit are the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Clerk of the National Assembly.Justice Mohammed held the Chief Magistrate acted malafidei, without jurisdiction or beyond her jurisdiction when she allowed the police to arraign Ugochinyere in her court.The court also stopped the defendants, whether by themselves or acting jointly or through their agents,  from further conducting any or proceedings against Ugochinyere in the matter of Commissioner of Police v. Ikeagwuonu  Ugochinyere – Charge No:CR/12/2020 before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja.The court further  restrained the police from arresting or prosecuting  Ugochinyere on the set of facts which comprised the allegation brought against him by speaker  and defendants.

Justice Mohammed held that  jurisdiction was very fundamental as it was the life wire of a case and arraigning the applicant without having the jurisdiction to do so made the entire process a nullity.” If the court has no jurisdiction to determine a case, all proceedings remains a nullity no matter how well conducted and decided.“It follows therefore that the arraignment of the applicant, by the 5th defendant was done without jurisdiction.“In the eyes of the law, such proceedings conducted in excess of jurisdiction is a nullity.“If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity, it is not bad, but incurably bad and does not need an order of court to set it aside, it is automatically null and void without much ado.”

Every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad as you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand, it will definitely collapse,” the judge held.According to her, the entire event smacks of disobedience to orders of supperior courts of records, as it is not seen as an afront on the judge whose order is flouted and such is not likely to stand as it is a calculated act of subversion of the rule of law and order.” On no account should an order of court be flouted so far as the said order subsists and is not varied or set aside.

“In the circumstances therefore, I find merit in this application and same is hereby granted with the following orders:“That the exercise of jurisdiction of the 5th defendant against the applicant in charge no: CR/12/2020 was a breach and violation of subsisting orders of superior courts of records and is therefore unlawful, null and void in its entirety until all such orders pronounced by superior courts are set aside.” That the 5th defendant exceeded her jurisdiction and therefore acted utra vires her powers when she assumed jurisdiction to try the applicant in the same charge and consequently arraigned and granted bail to the applicant when the basis of the criminal charge has been restrained and voided by superior courts of records both of Federal High Court and FCT High Court.“

An order is hereby made quashing the entire proceedings of June 22, 2020 or any proceedings thereafter in the charge before Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse II, for want of jurisdiction.”The judge also said that while the 4th defendants, the clerk of the national assembly had filed processes, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th defendants refused to file processes in response to the suit.

The judge said this was in spite of proof that all the processes had been served on them.She held that  the law was settled that where there was no denial of allegations by the defendants, in her opinion was an admission of guilt.She said the facts of the case before her were compelling and needed denial from the defendants which was not provided.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Justice  Mohammed had granted the application for a judicial review filed by Ugochinyere to restrain the Wuse Chief Magistrate, Idayat Olaide from going ahead with the trial of a case of criminal defamation brought against him by the Inspector- General of Police.

The CUPP spokesperson was on June 18, 2020 arrested by the police in Abuja for accusing the leadership of the House of Representatives of collecting $10m bribe from billionaire, Bill Gates, to pass the infectious disease control bill.

NAN also  recalls  that on June 22, 2020, the CUPP spokesman was arraigned before the Wuse Zone 2 Chief Magistrate Court in Charge No. CR/12/2020 on allegations of criminal defamation of the character of the Speaker of the House Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.Speaking to newsmen,  the CUPP Spokesperson thanked God judgment saying the judiciary is the protector of the legitimate voices of Nigerians. (NAN)