From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Thursday clashed in court over a motion seeking the discontinuance of a cybercrime charge against a former governor of Imo State, Dr Ikedi Ohakim.
The unpleasant development forced the court to adjourn further proceedings to May 6
The Inspector-General had filed a notice of discontinuance of the charge against the defendants, Dr Ohakim and Chinedu Okpareke.
The notice dated March 15 was filed before the court by Rotshang Faith Dimka, Legal Counsel, Legal/Prosecution Section, FCIID, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
‘Take notice that the complainant discontinues all of the proceedings in this case against all the defendants, Chinedu Okpareke and Dr Ikedi Ohakim with the consent of all the parties.’
However, when the matter was called for the hearing of the motion, a mild drama ensued a lawyer from the Office of the Attorney-General, Bagudu Sani, informed the court that the Office of the AGF has taken over the case by a letter dated March 17, which he said had been served on the Inspector-General of Police.
Immediately after his submissions, prosecution counsel Rotshang Faith Dimka, from the office of the IGP, opposed the taking over of the case by the office of AGF on the ground that the charges preferred against the former governor were prepared by the office of the IGP, whom she said is the complainant in the case.
She questioned how the AGF would want to take over a matter that a notice of discontinuance has already been filed.
Following the development, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who said he had taken judicial notice of the letter, directed Sani to file the letter formally before the court.
Counsel for the defendants – Chief Emeka Etiaba, SAN, for Okpareke and KC Nzemaze, SAN, for Ohakim – had all expressed their readiness to challenge the AGF’s action.
Meanwhile, the court has given all the parties seven days each to file and exchange their written arguments on the propriety or otherwise of the taking over of the case by the AGF after a notice of discontinuance had been filed by the complainant.
Justice Taiwo thereafter adjourned the case to May 6 for the adoption of written addresses by parties to the suit.
Reacting to the development, the counsel to Ohakim, Aloy Ejimakor, said that ‘it is counter-procedural for the office of the Attorney-General to move to take over a case that has been discontinued by a Prosecutor, acting pursuant to his powers under Section 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.’
Ejimakor added that ‘the direction by the Court for parties to file written addresses is an opportunity for the Police to publicly ventilate the evidence upon which it grounded the discontinuance.’
According to the charge number FHC/ABJ/CS/287/2020, the two accused persons were said to have threatened to release a nude photograph of Amuchienwa if she failed to drop the charges of attempted kidnap against them.
The police had in the five-count charge dated November 25, 2020, and signed by MO Omosun, alleged that both Ohakim and his accomplice knowingly and intentionally transmitted communication through a computer system or network to harass and bully Amuchienwa.
According to the charge, the offence is punishable under Section 24(1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.
Some of the charges read:
‘That you Chinendu Okpareke ‘m’ 49, and Dr Ikedi Ohakim ‘m’ and others now at large on the 13th day of August 2020 within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves by knowingly and intentionally send messages by means of a computer system or network in a grossly offensive, pornographic, nude of an indecent obscene and menacing character of one Chinyere Amuchienwa ‘f’ and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.
‘That you Chinendu Okpareke ‘m’ 49, and Dr Ikedi Ohakim ‘m’ and others now at large on the 13th day of August 2020 within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves to cause annoyance and criminal intimidation to one Chinyere Amuchienwa, ‘f’, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.
‘That you Chinendu Okpareke ‘m’ 49, and Dr Ikedi Ohakim ‘m’ and others now at large on the 13th day of August 2020 within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves by knowingly and intentionally called and threatened one Chinyere Amuchienwa, ‘f’, that if she does not drop the First Information charge of attempted kidnap against by it and others at large, the nude pictures of the said Chinyere Amuchienwa, ‘f’, will be posted to CNN and all over the world and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 24 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.’