Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige on
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, fixed October 3, this year for hearing in an appeal by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to reverse an Abuja high court verdict
ABUJA—A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, fixed October 3, this year for hearing in an appeal by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to reverse an Abuja high court verdict which quashed a multiple criminal charge of bribery and corrupt practice slammed on two prominent members of the inner bar including a ministerial nominee, Prince Kayode Adetokunbo.
The panel of justices headed by Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa fixed the date for the hearing of the substantive appeal, yesterday, after disposing off all preliminary applications by the parties in the case.
Other justices of the appellate court on the panel are Justices Mary Odili and Justice Rhodes-Vivour
Four lawyers including two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Messrs. Kayode Adetokunbo (also a ministerial nominee) and Damien Dodo (SAN), it would be recalled, were recently arraigned before an Abuja High Court for allegedly offering a N21 million bribe to a mother and son, both lawyers in respect of a contract procured by a consortium of four lawyers including the two docked lawyers about three lawyers ago.
The said job by the consortium of lawyers was in respect of the drafting of contract agreements for INEC’s Electronic Voters Register Project in 2002.
ICPC charged the two senior lawyers because they allegedly gave the bribe without reporting to either the police or the ICPC officials.
was not competent to query the decision of the judge to quash the criminal charges against the lawyers owing to his claim that the proof of evidence did not link them to the charges pressed against them, he had said that the procedure adopted by the trial judge was the only thing that gave him concern.
Chief Gani had further explained that assuming the lawyers whose charges were quashed had made a written application to that effect, he said he would have been comfortable with the decision of the court in the matter.
He had further observed: ““despite my view in the procedure adopted in this case, what is remarkable is the swiftness with which justice was dispensed in the INEC scam case.
““It is my wish, hope and prayer that such fast track(quick) justice will equally be dispensed to all manners of men and women in the land when such occasions arise in all our courts in Nigeria,”” he added.
On the strength of the worry, ICPC approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja, urging it to order that the entire case be remitted to another designated judge of the Abuja high court for a de novo trial.
In a notice of appeal lodged at the appeal unit of the Abuja high court for onward transmission to the registry of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, the commission crafted nine fundamental grounds to invite the appellate court to void the entire decision of the presiding judge, Justice Ishaq Bello in the matter.
The grounds of appeal include:
· That the learned trial judge erred in law by quashing the charges against Kayode and Dodo when no application to quash the charge or charges preffered against them was made by any or all of the accused persons;
· That the learned trial judge erred in law when he converted an oral application for bail made by the accused persons to an application for quashing of charges made against Dodo and Kayode when no such application was raised or gued before him;
· That the learned trial judge erred in law and exceeded his jurisdiction when after he had granted leave to prefer the charges against Dodo and Kayode, he turned round to quash the charges against both of them without hearing counsel or vacating the order granting the leave he had earlier granted;
· That the learned trial judge erred in law in quashing suo motu the charges against Dodo and Kayode without first calling on the parties to address him on whether or not there were grounds and or reasons to warrant the quashing of the charges against Dodo and Kayode;
· That the learned trial judge misdirected himself in law and exceeded his jurisdiction when he went outside the narrow issue of whether or not to grant bail to Dodo and Kayode and proceeded on a voyage of discovery by delving unnecessarily into the proof of evidence considering the possibility of conviction to arrive at his decision to quash charges against Dodo and Kayode;
· That the learned trial judge erred in law in granting a relief that was never sought;
(a) there was no application for an order to quash the charges against Dodo and Kayode;
(b) there was no application to set aside or vacate the order of leave granted by the judge that Dodo and Kayode be prosecuted on the charges lecelled against them;
(c) that since the grant of leave to prefer the charges, no new materials were presented to the trial judge to justify his subsequent conduct;
(d) that all Dodo and Kayode asked for was bail to be granted them and that
(e) an application for bail is not synonymous with application for quashing charges.
· That the learned trial judge erred in law when he singled out from the summary of evidence, the statement of Dr Abel Guobadia for consideration to justify quashing the charge or charges against Dodo and Kayode and
(a) the trial judge did not consider the charges laid out before him
(b) the summary of the statement of other witnesses were consciously ignored or neglected
(c) the trial judge ignored the relevant provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act 2000 and more particularly when he failed to take into account the specific charge\ charges against Dodo and Kayode
· That the learned trial judge erred in law by reversing himself when he had already granted leave for the prosecution of all the accused persons including Dodo and Kayode in that
(a) in granting the application for leave, the trial judge held that the proof of evidence showed that a prima facie case was disclosed
(b) the plea of all the accused persons was taken
(c) both Dodo and Kayode pleaded not guilty and submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.
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