Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A Makurdi High Court, presided by Justice Theresa Igoche, has struck out murder charge against former Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Arc. Joseph Kyaagba, for want of jurisdiction.
Kyaagba was charged to court for his alleged involvement in the murder of his colleague, Denen Igbana, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Special Security, who was murdered on April 20, 2016.
The principal suspect in the murder case, Terwase Akwaza, a.k.a Gana, who was declared wanted by the state and still at large had fingered Kyaagba in the murder of Igbana, a development which led to his arrest and prosecution.
But when prosecution closed his case, defense counsel led by Bernard Hom (SAN), filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter and urged the court to strike out same.
Hom also argued that no prima facie case was established hence “no case submission. He also prayed for any further order as the court may deem fit.
The defense counsel stated further that the matter and the charges thereof were not instituted according to the due process of the law and cited Section 185 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act.
According to him, only the Attorney General of the State can initiate the action or in the alternative, an attorney by leave of court stressing that in the instant case, no such procedure was followed hence the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain same.
He further argued that nothing was in evidence before the court to move the accused to enter defence and pleaded “no case submission.”
Prosecution led by Solomon Ogah, appearing with Obi Ogboaka however, filed a counter affidavit in opposition to the application by the defense counsel contending that a prima facie case was established and it was immaterial to bring forth the issue of no case submission and submitted that the charges before the court were proper.
Ruling on the application, Justice Igoche who agreed with defense counsel that the case was not initiated by the due process of law posited that no leave of court was sought and obtained for the charges to be endorsed by a person other than the Attorney General of Benue State.
The trial judge, flowing from one of the decisions of the Supreme Court held that a court is competent to handle a matter only when it is instituted by the due process of law. Consequently, she struck out the matter for lack of jurisdiction.
“The court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this matter. It is hereby struck out and the accused person discharged. I cannot delve into the other issues because of lack of jurisdiction,” the trial judge held.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the ruling’ Prosecution counsel said that “the law has only been restated. The competency of the matter is still standing before the court. It is the charge before my lord that has been withdrawn that it was not properly filled according to the rules.”
When approached, both Kyaagba, his counsel Theophilus Igba who held the briefs of Hom declined to speak with journalists after the ruling.
Kyaagba, when asked about the ruling simply waved: “Please, please” and walked away.