From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday quashed the criminal defamtion charge filed against the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere by the Inspector General of Police.
Justice Binta Mohammed in her judgment further restrained the Wuse Cheif Magistrate, Idayat Olaide from proceedings with the trial which was instigated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Clerk of the National Assembly.
High court sitting in Apo and presided by Justice Mohammed has granted the application for a judicial review filed by Spokesperson of the CUPP, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere to restrain the Wuse Ch from going ahead with the trial of a case of criminal defamation brought against him by the Inspector General of Police on the instigation of the Speaker of the Hose of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the
It would be recalled that on 22nd June 2020, the CUPP Spokesperson was arraigned before the Wuse Zone 2 Chief Magistrate Court in Charge No. CR/12/2020 on allegations of criminal defamation following the report of the Speaker and the Clerk of the National Assembly.
Accordingly, the court restrained the Defendants, whether by themselves or acting jointly or through their agents, prohibiting them from further conducting any hearing or proceedings against the Claimant/Applicant in the matter of Commissioner of Police v. Ikeagwuonu Imo Ugochinyere – Charge No:CR/12/2020 before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja or on any facts constituting the same subject matter as the case/Charge.
By this Order of Court, the Inspector General of Police and other security agencies are hereby effectively restrained from arresting of prosecuting Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere on the set of facts which comprised the allegation brought against him by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and his allies.
Justice Mohammed equally made the following orders in favour of the applicant; “An order was granted on May 5, 2020, as well as an order of accelerated hearing. Similarly, on June 10, 2020, another superior court issued an interim enrolled order in the interim, against the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants. The enrolled order as per annexture two of this application, also affected the 5th defendant as an order emanating from a superior court.
She held that ” jurisdiction is very fundamental and is the life wire of a case. If the court has no jurisdiction to determine a case, all proceedings remains a nullity no matter how well conducted and decided. It followed 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. It does not need an order of court to set it aside, it is automatically null and void without much ado. Though it is sometimes
convenient to have the court to declare it to be so.
” Every proceedings which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot something on nothing and expect it to stand, it will definitely collapse.”
“The entire events smacks of disobedience to orders of supperior courts of records, as it is not only seen as an afront on the Judge whose orders 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 subsits and is not veried judiciary or set aside. In the circumstances therefore, I found 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 its jurisdiction and therefore acted in utra vires its 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.
“The 5th defendant in proceeding to try, arraigned and read the FIR agaisnt the applicant based on the instigation of the 5th defendant acted unconstitutionally, illegally, utra vires its powers, overreaching or sitting on appeal over the orders of higher courts of records and therefore null and void.
” The 5th defendant in assuming jurisdiction, arraigning and holding proceedings on June 22, 2020 or any other day thereafter, upon instigation of the defendants, hurriedly arraigned, embarrassed, humiliate and defamed the applicant in connection of the alleged offences in charge no : CR/12/2020, abused his discretion, exceeded his jurisdiction and acted malafide and contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“An order is hereby made quashing the entire proceedings of June 22, 2020 or any other proceedings thereafter in the charge before Chief Magistrate Court, Wuse II, for want of jurisdiction.
In his response to the judicial victory, the CUPP Spokesperson thanked God for the grace to survive the onslaught against him and also praised the judge for acts of rare courage in delivering such judgment in a regime that stops at nothing to intimidate and emasculate the judiciary. “It must have been to ensure that the judiciary does not protect the legitimate voices of the opposition like it has done today that this regime has been unrelenting in actions to intimidate and emasculate the judiciary. Today, Speaker Gbajabiamila has left Court with a bloodied nose. He believed that that their mission to do anyhow with the judiciary has been accomplished. So this ruling today will motivate them to continue their onslaught on the judiciary since they have realized there are still some fearless judges in the country.”