APC urges FG to intervene over deteriorating security in Bauchi

By Ugochukwu Alaribe

An Abia State Magistrate Court sitting in Umuahia ,has convicted the former Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah for forgery, following a criminal complaint brought by his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The Abia State chapter of APC had sued Ogah alleging that he did not participate in the governorship primary election of the party held on May 26, 2022 but went ahead and forged the party’s direct primary election result sheet with intent that it may be acted on as genuine.

The party stated that the forgery perpetrated by Ogah was prejudicial to the party and its authentic governorship candidate in Abia State,(Chief Ikechi Emenike) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 465 of the Criminal Code (as applicable in Abia) and punishable under Section 467.

Delivering judgment on the suit No. UMSC/362/2022, Magistrate Ngozi N. Nwangwa,found the defendant/respondent guilty as charged.

“I’m convinced that the defendant has no defence. I hereby commit Dr Uche Ogah for the offence as charged,” the Margistrate,ruled.

Since the defendant was absent in court, the Magistrate ordered security agencies to arrest him anywhere he is found and keep him in the nearest correctional centre pending the day he would be brought to court for sentencing.

Vanguard gathered that the former minister had failed to appear before the court since November when the matter came up for hearing. He also failed to send any counsel to represent him in court.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the Magistrate stated that she had been served a copy of petition written by Ogah to both the Chief Judge and and the Attorney General alleging bias and compromise.

But the lead counsel of APC, Mr. Vigilus Nwankwo submitted that the said petition was the unusual antics adopted by those wanting to evade justice, stressing that the outcome could not stay proceedings based on the petition.

Citing Order 40 Rule 6(1) of the Abia State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2007, Nwankwo noted that what the defendant did was an administrative step and not a formal application before the court for stay of proceedings.

The APC counsel further cited Section 305 of the Abia State Criminal Justice Law which stipulates that application for stay of proceedings in respect of any criminal case shall not be entertained.

Having found merit in the submissions of the counsel to the Complainant/Applicant, the Magistrate granted the request for the prosecution to continue with the proceedings.

The sole prosecution witness, Chief Chidi Avajah, who is the state Secretary of the Abia APC, was led in evidence to adopt his written deposition dated November 30, 2022, in respect of the criminal case.

The depositions admitted as exhibit by the court also contained affidavits deposed by both the Chairman and Secretary of the APC governorship primary election panel for Abia, Chief Tony Obiefuna and Mr. Chukwudi Kanu, respectively, stating that their signatures were forged by the respondent, Ogah.

Since the ex minister failed to open his defence on the charges against him, the prosecution after making its submissions closed its case and urged the court to accept the documentary evidence, rely on them and act on them.

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