By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Abuja—A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in Bwari Area Council of Abuja has remanded Edozie Njoku and Chukwuemeka Nwoga in Suleja Prison in Niger State for alleged forgery.
Njoku and Nwoga were accused by the police authorities of forging a supreme court judgment which they said reinstated them as the national chairman and the national youth leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, respectively as against the chairmanship of Victor Oye.
The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Madugu had last week issued a bench warrant on the duo for failing to appear before the court.
But at the resumed hearing yesterday, the court vacated the bench warrant but upheld the opposition mounted by the prosecution counsel, Ezekiel Rimasonte against the bail application by the defence lawyer, Panam Ntui on the matter.
The court ruled that Njoku and Nwoga be remanded for two days and be produced to court on Wednesday.
The accused persons were standing trial on a 14-count charge preferred against them by the police.
Chief among the charge was the authenticity of a letter written by Justice Mary Odili, a retired Justice of the supreme court wherein it was said she clarified the judgment of the apex court on the chairmanship of APGA, affirming the status of Njoku as the national chairman.
Whereas Njoku relied on the letter to assume office, the police prosecution counsel said the letter was completely forged, an offence he said was a very sensitive one with serious penalties under the law.
Speaking to Journalists shortly after the court ruled and remanded Njoku, his legal representative, Panam Ntui said that though he succeeded with the first motion of vacating the bench warrant, there was still hope that on Wednesday, the court will grant bail to his clients.
He said: “We appeared in this case with two of my learned colleagues. The defendants couldn’t appear on the first date the matter was to be mentioned. So, on that note, the court granted the prosecution counsel’s request to issue a bench warrant against the defendants. The bench warrant was granted by the court. But the prosecution and the police couldn’t secure the defendants because they were outside the jurisdiction of the court. They were in the southeast but by providence, God brought them back to jurisdiction, and on their own, they attended the court to show that there is nothing they are running away from. They are people of integrity and societal standing. So, there is nothing to hide. All the allegations in the charge against the defendants are just baseless because at the appropriate time, the defendants are going to prove their case.
“But today, on the adjourned date, we sought the leave of the court to move two motions. The first was for the court to vacate the bench warrant issued against the defendants. One, because they are not criminals. They are not running away from justice and the court graciously granted that. And we are grateful to his lordship for granting that. But the second application was the motion for bail of the defendants. The court heard the motion but adjourned the ruling to Wednesday.
“So, I am hopeful that justice will be done on Wednesday because the purported offences are bailable offences. So, I strongly believe that by Wednesday, the court will rule on the bail application and we are hopeful that the lordship will grant that bail.
“They have just been arraigned. So, commenting or saying anything on that will amount to subjudice because after arraignment, they take their pleas from there and the court assumes jurisdiction.
“On the issue of whether it was forged or not forged, the supreme court is there. Justice Mary Odili is alive and the other Justices of the Supreme Court are equally alive. There are so many other Justices of the Supreme Court that sat on the case and to allege that a personality of such standing, a national chairman of a political party will go and forge particulars and documents of a justice of the supreme court is laughable and let me tell the media that in the second letter our defendants wrote to the supreme court, they wrote to the Chief Justice of the Federation and Justice Mary Odili and other Justices have done their responses to the Chief Justice of the nation.
“So, everything will unveil itself as the tisme comes but our clients, the defendants are very responsible citizens and all those allegations are just political maneuverings and ways of distracting the truth of the matter because they know that on the supreme court judgment, the defendant is going to be fully reinstated”, he said.
Similarly, the prosecutor and Chief Superintendent of Police, Rimasonte told Journalists that the case was a unique one for the police hence the suit.
He insisted that Njoku forged the supreme court judgment.
He said: “In this case you see, police decided to institute this criminal charge against Edozie Njoku because of the unprecedented nature of the offence. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is the highest court of the land. This man was not a party to the case from Jigawa State High Court to the Court of Appeal in Kano State and the Supreme Court when he sought to be joined as an interested party. The court refused and struck out his application. This man went and fraudulently gave money to the Registrars of the Supreme Court to issue him a judgment of a court that he was not a party to. According to him, Justice Mary Odili gave him this judgment.
“Who were his lawyers in this case? Where are the processes Njoku filed in court that warrant him to be issued with the record of a judgment of the supreme court with his name?”
Asked to clarify the issue of monetary inducement of the court registrars, Rimasonte insisted that some persons were mobilized by Njoku to do his bidding.
He added that the charges will be amended to compel Odili to appear before the court either as a co-accused person or witness in the matter.
“The issue of money I said here and I will say it again, nothing goes for nothing. The bailiff of the supreme court, Mr. Paul, said he was mobilized after they forged the judgment. So, he was given money to go and serve the process at the national office of INEC in Abuja. Did he trek from the supreme court to INEC? No. He was given money. Even those people that participated were watered.
“As I am speaking now, the same Njoku has written a series of petitions against the director of litigations of the supreme court. Njoku is always attacking people left and right thinking that when he intimidates them, he will go scot-free. He will not. Njoku has no defence in this case. Njoku manipulated the judgment of the supreme court in the case he was never heard and never a party to. Is it fair?
“So, we came to court today to see that if he had not come to court, we would have extended this bench warrant across the United Kingdom where he claims he also has their citizenship for them to look for him there and repatriate him back to Nigeria but God saved him that he was in court today. But that is not the end of it.
“There is no way Justice Mary Odili will not come for this case because we are going to amend this charge. She’s coming in either as a co-accused person or as a witness in this case for prosecution. She has no options. Nobody is above the law. Justice Mary Odili should go and pray, fast and ask God to save her from this case because Njoku threw his weight on Justice Mary Odili. If I show you records of the supreme court, you will see that Njoku forged the judgment of the court. No convention brought Njoku to this matter,” the prosecution counsel said.
Reacting to the development, the national administrative secretary of the party loyal to Njoku, Okoro Benedict said the incarceration appeared to be premeditated.
“In a horrible twist, Justice M. A Madugu denies Edozie Njoku and Chukwuemeka Nwoga bail and remands them in prison as he adjourned the matter to November 30, 2022.
“Modestly speaking, it does seem the Court’s remanding of Edozie Njoku is premeditated.
“The conditions upon which both Edozie Njoku and Chukwuemeka Nwoga were denied bail run contrary to their fundamental principles of human rights. This too shall pass”, he said.