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Keyamo vs Martins: Court gives verdict today

Kenny Martins

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA—Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo and the National Chairman of Police Equipment Foundation, PEF, Chief Kenny Martins will today, at an Abuja High Court, know their fate over their lingering legal tussle on prosecutorial power on criminal  matters.

The Abuja High Court will give verdict on whether Keyamo can subject Kenny Martins to prosecution on alleged criminal matters without making public the fiat issued him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, to so do.
Keyamo and Kenny Martins had in the past one year been embroiled in legal tango on whether the lawyer can prosecute the businessman without the fiat of the Federal Government.

At the last hearing of the criminal case instituted against Martins by Keyamo, the Lagos lawyer insisted that he did not need to show the Federal Government’s fiat to either the court or the accused person before he can prosecute them.

Although he informed Justice Mwada Balami that he was in possession of government fiat, all attempts to make him display it before the court were rebuffed.

Fiat is a delegated authority in written form normally issued to private legal practitioners by the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, to prosecute criminal cases on his behalf.

By virtue of section 174 of the 1999 constitution, the Attorney-General of the Federation is the only person empowered to initiate criminal proceedings against anybody suspected to have committed crimes. He also wields the power to take over or discontinue any criminal proceedings.

Most times, the fiats are shown to the trial judge or exhibited by the legal practitioners authourised to undertake such criminal proceedings.

But Keyamo who initiated the criminal charges against Martins and three others vowed to move on to try the accused persons on alleged forgery of the Federal Government documents without showing or exhibiting the fiat.

However in a preliminary objection, Kenny Martins asked Justice Balami to compel Keyamo to make the Federal Government fiat issued  to him available to the court and to all the four accused persons.

Martins whose case was argued by Chief Johnny Ucheaga insisted that the authenticity of Keyamo’s claim must be ascertained before any trial could commence. The counsel told the court that Keyamo was not the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, who can prosecute on behalf of government without displaying any fiat.

He contended that the purpose of the fiat as envisaged in the criminal law was to forestall the abuse of prosecutorial power and that Keyamo must not be allowed to abuse the court process.

The lawyer also informed Justice Balami that two other courts in Abuja have stopped Keyamo from prosecuting the same people, being the writer of the petition that brought about the alleged offence.

Justice Balami after hearing arguments of the two parties fixed today for his verdict on the issue.


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