By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, has applied to take over the prosecution of a Delta based politician, Mr. Charles Umukoro, who is facing trial over allegation that he murdered his wife.
The Inspector General of Police is prosecuting Umokoro before Justice Maryanne Aninih of the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
Police alleged that the defendant attacked his wife, Louisa, by “hitting her on the head, which caused internal hemorrhage, with the knowledge that her death would be the probable consequence”.
An autopsy report from the National Hospital in Abuja disclosed that the deceased who was a former Director at the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, died on April 21, 2016, from “subdural hemorrhage” as a result of two bruises on both sides of her neck.
However, the defendant who Police identified as a former Deputy Chairman of Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State, had attributed injuries that led to his wife’s death to “domestic accident”.
At the resumed hearing on the matter, the AGF notified the court of his intention to take over the prosecution from police.
A lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. A.B. Mamman, told the court that AGF’s application was based on the provision of section 174 of the 1999 consitution, as amended, which permits him to take over any case entered on behalf of the government.
Mamman said the AGF had already written a letter asking the IGP to hands-off the prosecution.
However, the AGF’s request infuriated Police lawyer, Mr. Jubril Okutekpa, SAN, who urged the court to refuse it.
Okutekpa, SAN, said he was perturbed that the action of the AGF was a function of a petition by the defendant’s lawyer.
He noted that the defendant failed to serve copies of the said petition to him as the prosecution counsel and to the court.
Okutekpa insisted that the AGF’s application was “strange”, saying it did not confirm to the tenets of the due process.
Besides, the police lawyer said he had yet to receive any letter from the AGF or the IGP
directing him to hands-off the case.
“My lord, why would the defence insist on who should prosecute the matter and why would the defence and the said prosecution counsel be in unholy alliance? This is why I maintain that this application is strange”, Okutekpa added.
He had earlier sought leave of the court to serve the defendant with a copy of the statement of the first prosecution witness, PW1, Engr. Nosa Ukponmwan, as well as an audio recording and transcripts of conversation between the deceased and the defendant shortly before her death.
Meanwhile, Justice Aninih has adjourned the matter till December 5.