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Posts tagged ‘Appellate court’

A’Court rejects call logs evidence in Senator Ali Ndume. One of the sponsors of Boko Haram terrorists.


Senator-Ali-Ndume

Senator Aliyu Ndume, who is facing trial for allegedly sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, got a reprieve on Tuesday as the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, overturned the admission in evidence of records of mobile telephone conversations between him and a former spokesman of the terror sect, Ali Konduga (aka Al Zawahiri).

Trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Federal High Court, had in two rulings on December 11 and 14, 2012, admitted in evidence, DVDs containing results of the forensic analysis of two mobile telephones said to be retrieved from Ndume and Konduga – including call data records – as exhibits P7, P8, P8a and P8b.

The DVDs were tendered in court by the State Security Service.

 

Following the development, Ndume, through his lawyer, Rickey Terfa, SAN, approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the admission of the DVDs.

The defence counsel argued that the DVDs, which were computer generated, did not meet the criteria required for the admission of computer generated materials as evidence under the Evidence Act.

Ruling on the application on Tuesday, the panel of justices of the Court of Appeal upheld the two appeals filed by Ndume.

In a judgment read by Justice Amiru Sanusi, the appellate court faulted the admission of the materials in evidence by the Abuja FHC.

The Court of Appeal held that the Abuja FHC erred when it admitted the DVDs in evidence even when the prosecution failed to comply with the condition precedent as required under Section 84(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act 2011 (as amended) in relation to the admission of computer generated evidence.

According to the appellate court, the word “shall” in section 84 of the Evidence Act made it compulsory that its provisions must be complied with.

“In this case, the respondent failed to comply with the condition precedent as prescribed in Section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act,” Justice Sanusi stated.

The court, as a result, declared as wrongful, the admission in evidence of the DVDs marked exhibits ‘P7, P8, P8a and P8b’, which contained the records of mobile telephone exchanges between Ndume and Konduga.

The call data records had revealed a total of 73 mobile telephone conversations between Ndume and Konduga from October 3, 2011 to November 3, 2011.

A forensic examiner attached to the Special Investigation Unit of the SSS, Mr. Aliyu Usman, had made the disclosure while testifying before the Abuja FHC.

Disclosing details of the DVDs, the witness also informed the court how Ndume and Konduga saved each other’s numbers on their mobile telephones.

While Ndume’s number was saved on entry 78 on Konduga’s mobile telephone as ‘INDUME Sen. Ali.’, the former Boko Haram spokesman’s phone number was stored on entry 1819 on the Senator’s mobile phone as ‘Mal. Ali. BH’

The call data records were obtained after a forensic analysis of a Nokia E7 phone said to belong to Ndume, and a Nokia 2700 belonging to Konduga.

Ndume was arraigned before the Abuja FHC on a four-count charge bordering on terrorism after he was implicated by Konduga, who was eventually convicted and sentenced for his role in the terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Politicians, traditional rulers offer us bribe, says retiring S-Court Justice.


 
 
Mariam-Aloma-Muhktar

As the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar, intensifies effort to weed out corrupt elements from the judiciary, a retiring Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Stanley Shenko Alagoa, yesterday, admitted that some judges collect bribe from politicians and traditional rulers to pervert the course of justice.

Speaking at a valedictory court session that was held in his honour at the apex court yesterday, Alagoa who is bowing out of active judicial service after clocking the 70 years mandatory retirement age, disclosed that politicians often resort to intimidation and harassment in their uncanny bid “to influence judges to depart from their sacred oath of office and the path of honour and rectitude.”

According to him, “I will be failing in my duty especially at this time if I do not say a word or two about allegations of corruption in the judiciary. Time was when this canker worm was confined to the Magistracy and Customary or Native Courts. With time it is said to have spread and has now gained ground in the High and some say appellate Courts.

This trend must be worrisome to any discerning person as some highly placed persons including distinguished and respected retired Justices of the Supreme Court and other legal luminaries have expressed grave concern over this ugly trend.

“The greatest challenges to the judiciary are politicians followed by businessmen.

Traditional rulers must also share in the blame. It is this class of persons that bribe, intimidate, harass or influence judges to depart from their sacred oath of office and the path of honour and rectitude.

“A judge who hobnobs with this group may well be unwittingly allowing his position to be compromised and possibly jeopardized. A judge must hold fast to his faith in God and be bold. This done, these class of persons, like bees can only buzz around but must certainly lack the power and ability to sting.

“A necessary first step is the selection process. Only men and women of proven integrity and courage should be picked to sit on the bench,” he added.

His revelation came on a day the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, warned against frequent change of headship of the apex court.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Theft Of $1.55 Million Nigerian Embassy Tax Refund : US Court Of Appeals Rules Ugwuonye Cannot Appear Before It.


Emeka Ugwuonye during one of his many Nigerian trials for fraud
By SaharaReporters, New York

The appeal case filed by Emeka Ugwuonye, a Maryland-based attorney accused of stealing $1.55 million in tax refunds to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, has suffered a setback as the United States Court of Appeals in the District Columbia has told the embattled lawyer that he is not qualified to file papers in the court. In a letter to Mr. Ugwuonye obtained by SaharaReporters, the appellate court told the lawyer that his name was not on the list of lawyers permitted to appear before the court.

Signed by Mark Langer, a clerk of the court, the letter noted that inquiries carried out by the court showed that Mr. Ugwuonye was not a member of the bar of the court. Citing the D.C. Circuit Handbook of Practice and Internal Procedures 6 (2011), the letter warned that the court does not allow non-member attorneys to practice before the court. The clerk therefore asked Mr. Ugwuonye to seek admission to the court not later than July 3, 2013.

Mr. Ugwuonye had rushed to the Court of Appeal shortly after a US District Court in Washington, DC gave a default judgment against him that held him personally liable for embezzling a $1.55 million tax refund that was meant for the Nigerian Embassy. Judge Barbara Rothstein of the DC District Court also dismissed Mr. Ugwuonye’s counter claim against the embassy. Mr. Ugwuonye had sought more than $3 million in the counter claims.

In an earlier ruling, the court had found Mr. Ugwuonye’s law firm, ECU Associates, also liable for embezzlement of the embassy’s tax refunds.

Since obtaining the two verdicts, the embassy has filed claims before the court asking for at least $6.2 million against Mr. Ugwuonye in accumulated damages, attorney fees and interests.

Mr. Ugwuonye claimed in court filings that he was being owed by the embassy and the Nigerian government for legal services rendered for both entities, but Justice Rothstein said he had failed to provide credible proof of those claims. Mr. Ugwuonye practically abandoned his claims towards the end of his trial, missing several court deadlines, disobeying court orders, and refusing to partake satisfactorily in discovery and court-ordered depositions, for these infraction the judge also imposed fines on the controversial attorney.

Despite the order of the Court of Appeals that Mr. Ugwuonye rectify his admission to represent himself before the court, a legal observer told SaharaReporters that the controversial attorney’s odds of receiving permission were slim. “There are underlying factors against Emeka [Ugwuonye],” said the observer. “He was once suspended by the Attorney Grievances Commission in 2008. And the DC and New York Bar reciprocally suspended him after he was suspended for 90 days over the way he handled clients’ fees, particularly relating to a bizarre case involving a US citizen, Michael Etheridge,” added the source, also a DC-based attorney.

Mr. Etheridge had asked Mr. Ugwuonye to help sue the Maryland Crime Solvers agency to recover $25 million ransom placed on former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, after a plaintiff claimed he had provided information about Saddam Hussein’s whereabouts. Despite knowing that the client had a case that had initially been dismissed by another court, Mr. Ugwuonye took $3, 500 from Etheridge but failed to diligently prosecute the case. He was found guilty of negligence, accused of depositing an unearned retainer in his operating account, and suspended for 90 days. See proceedings here

Mr. Ugwuonye is also currently facing an investigation by the Attorney Grievances Commission over his handling of the embassy’s tax refund. There is also a complaint by a Nigerian citizen, Sola Adeeyo, that Mr. Ugwuonye stole $94,000 of payments recovered from a US bank that Mr. Adeeyo successfully sued.

Our legal observer suggested that Mr. Ugwuonye ran to the Court of Appeal with the aim of putting road blocks on bar investigations that could earn him disbarment.

Meanwhile , Judge Barbara Rothstein of the DC District Court has rescheduled the hearing for determination of damages, fines, and interests sought by ly 2nd 2013.

Leaked Judgement: Okadigbo Defeats Igbeke In Supreme Court Verdict.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Nigeria’s Supreme Court earlier on Friday affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which on July 12, 2012 had declared Margery Okadigbo, the widow of former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo, as the senator representing Anambra North.

SaharaReporters had obtained and published the apex court’s judgment before it was delivered today by a five man-panel. In the verdict, the court decided that the appellant, Alphonsus Uba Igbeke, had an untenable case that effectively invited the court to retreat from a principle it had established in four other cases.

The lead judgment, delivered by Justice Suleiman Galadima, stated that Mr. Igbeke should not be allowed to reopen a case that had been decided. “There must be an end to litigation,” said the justices, adding that Mr. Igbeke was seeking “to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and in its stead restore the judgment of the Federal High Court Abuja.” In pushing back against the appeal, the justices agreed with Ms. Okadigbo’s counsel that Mr. Igbeke had created a legal quagmire for himself.

Justice Galadima declared that the “hearing of this appeal will have the effect of inviting this court to sit on its own decision having become functus officio on the issue submitted and conclusively dealt with in SC 69/2012, which are on all fours as these in the present appeal.” The court also concluded that Mr. Igbeke’s appeal effectively constituted an abuse of court process.

Mr. Igbeke had appealed a decision of the Court of Appeal affirming Ms. Okadigbo as the PDP Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District. The appellate court had quashed an earlier decision of a Federal High Court upholding Mr. Igbeke as the duly elected senator for Anambra North in the April 2011 general elections.

Late yesterday, SaharaReporters obtained a copy of the Supreme Court verdict, breaking the news that the court was going to rule for Ms. Okadigbo ahead of the official delivery of the judgment. A legal source told SaharaReporters that the justices were outraged that their judgment had been leaked to us. “The justices vowed to discover who leaked the judgment,” said our source.

Igbeke vs. Okadigbo:Leaked Supreme Court Decision To Favour Senator Okadigbo.


Margery Okadigbo
By SaharaReporters, New York

Saharareporters has obtained a copy of a Supreme Court judgement in the election petition litigation between Senator Alphonsus Igbeke and Senator Margery Okadigbo.

The case in question, argued before Nigeria’s Supreme Court and topic of much discussion and legal debate, was expected to be decided today, May 31st, 2013. But days before the long-anticipated decision was to be announced in Abuja a source sent Saharareporters a copy of the ruling in advance claiming that justices of the Supreme Court had sold the judgement to the highest bidder.

The conflict, which arose after the Court of Appeals decided in 2011 that Senator Okadigbo was the rightful Peoples Democratic Party representative for the Anambra North Senatorial District, has dragged on for several years,

Senator Igbeke appealed against the ruling of the Court of Appeals, believing wholeheartedly that it was he who was the rightful candidate, and that he was the deserving recipient of the senatorial seat. A high court had earlier ruled in support of Igbeke, but the court of appeal ruled otherwise.

Today judgement will be relying heavily on a previous ruling of the court  which dismissed similar application from two other candidates challenging Mrs. Oksdigbo’s candidature. The panel of Supreme kurt justice are going to say that they cannot go back after a ruling on the same matter by the Court.

However today’s leak of such sensitive information can only contribute to the high-stakes suspicion that the Supreme Court as a three-ring circus, has engaged in acts of corruption of selling the ruling to the highest bidder, this will further taint and tarnish the image of the justice system at its highest level Nigeria.

The lead ruling which is expected to favour Senator Okadigbo will be read by Justice Suleiman Galadima of the Supreme Court.

The 29-page ruling refuses to touch Senator Igbeke’s substantive pleading, instead it will uphold an objection in support of Senator Okadigbo

Nigeria Court Of Appeal Affirms Death Penalty For Lagos Preacher Reverend King.


Chukwuemeka Ezeugo-“Rev. King”
By SaharaReporters, New York

An appeal court in Lagos has affirmed the death penalty for Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, the notorious Lagos preacher popularly known as “Rev. King”.

A panel of judges at the court today said the lower court acted in the interest of justice by sentencing the preacher to death.

Is It Time To Outsource Nigeria’s Criminal Justice System? By Adebayo Kareem.


By Adebayo Kareem

Within the last 10 months, two of Nigeria’s most infamous crooks were finally brought to justice and convicted of their various criminal acts against the people of Nigeria.  James Ibori is currently a long-term tenant in one of Her Majesty’s prisons after being sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for various money laundering offences by a London Court in April 2012 whilst Henry Okah has now been convicted of masterminding the October 1 2010 bombing that took place in Abuja in which many people were killed.

The tragedy for our country’s Criminal Justice System (CJS) however is that, rather than beating its chest in celebratory achievement for performing its routine statutory mandate, it has to look askance as foreign prosecuting agencies, in foreign countries took centre stages in meticulously bringing to justice Nigerian crooks who committed grave crimes on Nigerian soil.

How have we come to this? Why has a country with long history of excellence in the legal profession suddenly become a haven for criminals where white collar crooks saunter around brazenly- blatantly assaulting our collective sight with the proceeds of their crimes? Why is Nigeria- a country which has in the past exported prosecutors, judges and Chief Justices to many other countries and produced president of the World Court; and a country which still has so many excellent lawyers with sharp, forensic legal minds advancing the course of Criminal Justice in the UK, US, and all the various International Criminal Tribunals, now finds itself in a situation where criminals now realise that as long as they remain within the shores of Nigeria, they can rely on the prosecuting agencies and our Courts to help them in proving their innocence beyond reasonable doubt?

The answer of course lies squarely on the shoulders of those saddled with the responsibility of formulating our Criminal Justice policy. We continue to use 19th Century legal frameworks to prosecute 21st Century crimes and criminals. Save for Lagos state, our Criminal Procedural Regimes (at federal and state levels) are archaic and patently unfit for purpose.  The Federal Attorney-General and his various state counterparts should make reforming our CJS, particularly our procedural regimes- both criminal and civil- their top priorities. For the constraint of space, this writer will focus on two areas in need of very urgent reform.

i.    Lack of strict Case Management Regimes-
Countries which are serious about fighting crimes have always found a formula which blend fairness with speed in the dispensation of criminal justice. This they do by establishing robust and necessarily rigid Case Management System (CMS) which brooks no undue delay on the parts of either the prosecution or the defence. Parties must disclose their cases, evidence and witness list to the Court and other party within designated timeframe. There are usually grave consequences for non- compliance. Subsequently, with the help of the disclosures by the parties which would have revealed the amount of witnesses required and documents to be considered as exhibits during the trial, the Courts will then fix the trial timetable and nothing short of serious injury or death or other such serious unanticipated occurrence that might adversely impact on the fairness of the trial will make the Court extend the trial beyond the fixed trial time table. However in Nigeria, if there is any semblance of ad-hoc CMS at all, parties feel free to treat it with contempt. Recent comment attributed to Festus Keyamo, a well-known advocate, underlines the lackadaisical attitude of Nigeria’s lawyers to the imperative of a robust and time-bound CMS.

Keyamo has issued a press statement condemning the conviction of Henry Okah by the South Africa’s Court, saying the conviction was politically motivated. Mr Keyamo, who is defending Henry Okah’s brother’s Charles who is charged with identical offences and is being tried by an Abuja Court, states that two weeks ago he wrote to the South African Court that some of Charles witnesses in Nigeria wanted to testify for Henry in the Johannesburg trial. Keyamo is angry that the South African Court disregarded his application and proceeded to deliver judgment on the case. On this basis, Mr Keyamo condemned the trial even though it is unclear what would have been his locus in the South African trial and whether Henry’s counsel actually shared Keyamo’s decision to proffer additional witnesses in South Africa.

Henry Okah has been in detention since October 2010. Case management hearings would have been conducted in which Henry would have provided the Court with list of his witnesses.  Why did Keyamo wait until two weeks ago to notify the South African Court of these witnesses? Curiously, Keyamo stated that some of these witnesses are Nigeria’s own government officials and the question immediately arises- why would government officials be willing to give (presumably) positive evidence in support of Okah in a trial being effectively prosecuted by South African government on behalf of Nigerian government?

If Nigerian government officials are Charles Okah’s witnesses, why are we going through the charade of prosecuting Charles in Abuja then? On the face of it, it does not make any sense to this writer and the South African Court probably took the view that the application was frivolous and calculated to unduly delay the proceedings. It is tactics like this which also explains why the EFCC struggles to bring to conclusion prosecution of Politically Exposed Persons and why the EFCC has not been able to secure conviction against any of the ex-governors, ministers and government officials it arrested with fanfare in 2011.

ii.    Antiquated procedural regimes and frivolous interlocutory appeals.

Our criminal procedural regimes are simply unfit for purpose. We are still using colonial era criminal procedural rules, designed in the 19th Century for criminal prosecutions in the 21st Century. Although section 19(2)(b) of the EFCC Act explicitly provides that trials brought to Courts by the EFCC should be ‘conducted with dispatch and given accelerated hearing’,  our  unreformed 19th Century procedural regimes, coupled with appalling working environment of the  various state High Courts (in most states judges still take notes in long hands), have meant that despite the best interest of the promulgators of the EFCC Act, the agency has not been able to fully take advantage of this provision. Another area of abuse is the use of frivolous interlocutory appeal to delay the course of justice.

Every so often, defendants dissatisfied with the decision of a trial Court, appealed such decision to the Appellate Court and request such interlocutory appeal to, ipso facto serve as a stay on the substantive matter at the trial Court.  The interlocutory appeals inevitably subsequently drag on for months or years leaving the substantive matter in the cold. A good example of the abuse of interlocutory injunction relates to the case of Joshua Dariye. In 2007 after he lost his gubernatorial immunity, the EFCC charged Dariye to Court on 14 counts of money laundering.  Once he was arraigned, Dariye’s lawyers invited the Court to quash all the allegations against him. The trial judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko dismissed the motion but Dariye’s counsel appealed her decision and the trial was halted pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal. The appeal was later dismissed by the Supreme Court in June 2010- three years later, by which time Joshua Dariye has become a Senator. The trial proper of senator Dariye is yet to commence, almost 6 years after being charged.

Defence lawyers typically take advantage of this situation to milk the system and ensure that trials proper never really take place. In a Human Rights Watch publication titled ‘Nigeria- Corruption on Trial?’ and published in August 2011, the HRW quoted Ricky Tarfa a prominent defence lawyer as saying-
‘The laws are skewed in favour of an accused person…Once he is granted bail he can drag out his trial forever. This is compounded by the fact that judges are bombarded with work, have no modern facilities, and no good assistance’.

Therein lays the crux of the matter. The system is rotten and is designed to be toothless and unworkable. The Executive knows it. The Legislatures knows it. But it appears it suits them both for the continuation of the status quo –after all, it is not, for example, in the interest of Senator Dariye to support a bill calling for the reform of our Criminal Justice System. And sadly for the Nigerian people, the National Assemblies contain many Dariyes!

Our prosecuting agencies and the Courts have been getting the flaks of the Nigerian people for their perceived incompetence and culpability in bringing justice to high profile government officials accused of corruption. The statistics are indeed dire for the EFCC. Since its inception in 2003, the EFCC has arraigned about 50 prominent politicians for various offences of fraud and money laundering running into billions of US Dollars, but has secured conviction on only four of them.  Indeed of the four convictions, three were in fact settled by way of Plea Bargaining and only Olabode George was convicted after full trial. The trials of all the governors, ministers, prominent government officials, including the ex -speaker of the House of Representatives that were arrested in 2011 have remained stunted- no single witness has been called on any of them almost two years later.

However in the opinion of this writer, the real culprit is not the EFCC, ICPC or the Judiciary- the real culprits are the Executive and Legislative arms of the government which have chosen to make the works of the prosecuting agencies impossible. In the Presidential system of government which we pretend to operate in Nigeria, prosecutors or Courts cannot make laws. The acts of initiating the making of laws and passing of laws often lie in collaboration between the Executive and the Legislatures. It is high time the Executive and Legislative arms of our government reformed our antiquated Criminal Justice System. Until this is done,  this writer hereby humbly suggest that all the case files involving all former governors, ministers, high profile government officials, including the Lawan-Otedola files, should promptly be outsourced to England and South Africa!

Adebayo Kareem works as a Legal Officer with the African Union. He is contactable at omoalufa@hotmail.co.uk.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Egypt’s top courts suspend work in protest at Mursi.


CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s Cassation Court and the country’s most important appeals court said on Wednesday they would suspend their work pending a ruling on the constitutionality of President Mohamed Mursi’s decree granting him immunity from judicial review.

“The Cassation Court will suspend its work starting today,” the court’s vice chairman, Abdel Nasser Abu al-Wafa, said after a meeting of the court’s top officials.

Khaled Abdellah, a judge in the Cairo and Giza Appeals Court, said after a similar meeting that his court would also suspend its work “except in cases related to corruption and personal laws”.

There were chaotic scenes in both meetings as judges, divided over the Constitutional Court’s latest statement, argued over what to do.

A spokesman for the Supreme Constitutional Court, which declared the Islamist-led parliament void earlier this year, said on Wednesday that it felt under attack by the president.

“We did not find the Constitutional Court’s statement of simply condemning President Mursi’s decree enough,” Abu al-Wafa told Reuters after the meeting. “We are deciding on the next step after suspending work.”

Other regional appeals courts across Egypt had already suspended their work.

(Reporting by Marwa Awad; writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Reuters

Prison, massive fine for French rogue trader.


PARIS (AP) — The Paris appeals court has upheld former Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel‘sconviction for covering up massive losses, sentencing him to three years in prison and ordering him to pay back a staggering €4.9 billion (about $7 billion) in damages.

A lower court convicted him in October 2010 of forgery, breach of trust and unauthorized computer use in one of history’s biggest trading frauds. The appeals court upheld the conviction and the sentence Wednesday.

Kerviel had sought an acquittal, saying the bank had turned a blind eye to his exorbitant trades in 2007 and 2008 as long as they made money.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated Press

Zachery Tims’ Cause of Death May Remain Sealed Until 2013.


Zachery Tims
Zachery Tims (Zachery Tims)

Sealed pending appeal. That’s the status of the cause of death of Zachery Tims, the Orlando, Fla.-area megachurch pastor who died in a W Hotel room last August.

A New York State Appellate Court ruled on the case on Tuesday.

Tims’ autopsy and toxicology reports have been completed since October, but Madeline Tims, mother of the late pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, sued to keep the results from going public.

New York City attorney Ave Maria Brennan, who represents the Medical Examiner’s office, is confident that the Appellate Court will “ultimately uphold the previous decision” by Judge Cynthia S. Kern to reveal Tim’s cause of death, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

News reports indicate Tims, who died at the age of 42, had a plastic bag filled with white powder in his pocket, leading many to believe his death was associated with a drug overdose. By Tims’ own testimony, he was instantly delivered from drug addiction when he was saved as a teenager.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 4 in Madeline Tims’ move to keep her son’s death cause private. A ruling may not come down from the bench until early 2013, according to attorney Ricardo E. Oquendo, who is representing Madeline Tims in the suit.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

By Jennifer LeClaire.

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