Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday condemned the continued detention of a former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association chief, Mr Monday Ubani, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, without charge.
Falana, in a statement, demanded Ubani’s immediate release from the anti-graft agency’s custody, where he had been held since March 19.
The senior lawyer maintained that the detention of the ex-NBA chief and one Christopher Enai, for standing surety for a suspect who allegedly absconded, was unwarranted because the act did not constitute a criminal offence in Nigeria.
The condemnation by Falana came as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, on Monday ordered substituted service of a contempt suit on the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, who was accused of disobeying the court’s order directing him to either release the two men or charge them to court.
The NBA had earlier condemned Ubani’s continued detention which it claimed violated a subsisting court order.
The EFCC had said it was detaining Ubani and Enai for standing as the sureties for Dr Ngozi Olojeme, said to be “a prime suspect in the N68bn NSITF fraud.”
But Falana said, “A Nigerian who stands surety for a criminal suspect commits no offence if the latter does not turn up for his or her trial.
“No doubt, Mr Ubani’s decision to stand surety for a client who has vamoosed has caused him untold embarrassment. But he has not contravened any provision of the penal statute.
“Hence, the EFCC has filed a motion pursuant to Section 180 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, praying the court to direct Mr Ubani to show cause why he should not forfeit his bond.”
Falana stated that EFCC must comply with an order of court granting bail to Ubani, whom he demanded should be released immediately.
He stated, “Having not charged Mr Ubani with any criminal offence whatsoever, the EFCC must comply with the order of the FCT High Court which has admitted him to bail without any further delay.
“Having filed a motion before the FCT High Court to show cause why he should not forfeit his bond, Mr Ubani’s detention by the EFCC cannot be justified under the ACJA or the EFCC Act.
“The EFCC should therefore release Mr Ubani without any further delay.”
I Murdered Nine Women, I’m Guilty, Rivers Serial Killer Pleads in Court
The serial killer, Gracious David West, surprised many in the Rivers State High Court on Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to killing nine young women in different hotels.
West was finally arraigned on Tuesday after he first appeared before Justice Adolphus Enebeli on Monday without a lawyer representing him.
He had during his parade in September following his arrest confessed to killing seven young women; one in Lagos, one in Owerri, Imo State, and five in Rivers State.
West had stated then, “So far, I have killed five girls in Port Harcourt; one in Owerri, and another in Lagos. I started the killing in Lagos. I took N52,000 from the bank account of the first girl I killed in Lagos. Thereafter, I went to Port Harcourt, then to Owerri, and later returned to Port Harcourt.
“After I killed a girl, I collected her phone and sold it at Waterlines and the MTN office (in Port Harcourt). I met the last girl at a club in Port Harcourt.”
But those present in court on Tuesday were bewildered when West admitted killing nine persons when the charges were read to him.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to attempting to kill his 10th victim on September 18, 2019.
He told the court that he never intended to kill her, but only tied her to a chair and left her in the hotel room.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, the prosecuting counsel, Gladys Imegwu, said it was in the best interest of the state for the Rivers State Ministry of Justice to take over the prosecution of the suspect.
She stated, “The court actually ruled on the application of the lawyer from the Ministry of Justice through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who made an application to take over the case. It is their constitutional right and the court granted the application; we are not opposed to it.
“It is for the betterment of the state and we are working together. At the same time, we made it clear that we have prosecutorial power; even the Criminal Justice Law gives us that power.”
The Principal State Counsel from the DPP office, Chidi Ekeh, said the move to take over the prosecution was to ensure that justice was served.
He stated, “We consider this case a very sensitive one, because of the fact that most of the nine victims were killed in Rivers State; so, we want to send a message to Rivers residents that lives are valued and that such an offence cannot be toyed with.
“We will prosecute this matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that justice prevails at the end of the day.”
The counsel for the defendant, Vincent Chukwu, said his client’s guilty plea was not enough to convict him of the crime.
Chukwu stated, “The offence in question is a capital offence; whether my client did it or not, the presumption is that the prosecution must still prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. So, it is not for the defendant to just say I am guilty and liable and it ends there.
“Because the punishment is death, the burden is now on the prosecution to go ahead and prove its case and we are waiting for it.
“My client has a very plausible defence, which we shall open at the appropriate time. We had fruitful deliberations with him on Monday and we hope for the best in the matter.”
Justice Enebeli ordered that West be remanded in a correctional centre and adjourned the matter till November 18, 2019, for hearing.
I Never Made Any Monetary Demand from Fatoyinbo, Says Bukola Dakolo
Busola Dakolo on Monday said she did not make any monetary demand in the suit she filed at the High Court in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The socialite had dragged the founder of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, to the FCT High Court following the emotional distress she claimed she suffered as a result of an alleged rape by the pastor about 16 years ago.
The counsel for Dakolo, Pelumi Olajengbesi, made the clarification in a statement obtained by journalists in Abuja.
He said the N10m “quoted by the media is the cost of the action carried out by her lawyers, to wit, litigation fee.”
Olajengbesi added, “Following the misinformation being circulated in print and social media on the pending suit filed by our client, it has become imperative to address and clarify the true state of affairs.
“The Nigeria Police Force is still investigating the allegation of rape made by our client against the person of Biodun Fatoyinbo. In furtherance of the police investigation, the suspect (Biodun Fatoyinbo) was confronted by the complainant (our client) on September 5, 2019 at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Area 10, Abuja during an investigation conference presided over by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mike Ogbizi. The police therefore have not taken anyone to court.
“However, our client, in furtherance of her civil rights, and in line with constitutional provisions, filed a civil suit against Biodun Fatoyinbo on September 6, 2019. The civil suit is independent of the criminal allegations and/or investigation of the police.”
He added, “The suit has been the subject of several news headlines, albeit with a lot of misleading information. This missive is aimed at clarifying this misinformation and setting the records straight.
“Firstly, our client filed the civil suit against Biodun Fatoyinbo on September 6, 2019 at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and not the Federal High Court, as widely reported. As of the time of filing the suit, the same had yet to be assigned to a judge for hearing.
“Secondly, the court did not issue any summons on our client and the 14 days given to the defendant (Biodun Fatoyinbo) within which to enter appearance to the writ of summons commences from the date of personal service of the said suit on the person of Biodun Fatoyinbo and this certainly will be after the matter has been assigned to a judge.
“Thirdly, our client has not sought any monetary damages and/or compensation against Biodun Fatoyinbo in her reliefs. This is because our client’s reason for filing the civil suit against Biodun Fatoyinbo is, inter-alia, for the court to make pronouncements on her rights as well as Biodun’s liabilities and also to help other victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse gain the courage to confront their abusers no matter how highly placed they may be.”
Togolese Cook Bags Life Imprisonment for Murder of Ope Bademosi
A Lagos State high court in Igbosere, on Tuesday, sentenced a Togolese, Sunday Anani, to life imprisonment for the murder of the CEO of Credit Switch Ltd, Ope Bademosi, who had employed him as a cook.
Mr Anani had only been in the employ of the deceased for three days when he committed the crime on October 31, 2018, at the Ikoyi residence of the deceased.
The judge, Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, sentenced the accused after he changed his initial not guilty plea to a guilty plea.
He had entered into plea bargain with the prosecution to avoid being charged with an offence that carried the death sentence.
Through the plea bargain instituted through a letter dated May 20, the prosecution changed the original charge of murder and armed robbery to one of manslaughter.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile, while sentencing the defendant, said ” it is annoying that a young man like this would involve himself in this kind of crime.
“What did he hope to achieve in life involving himself in this kind of crime, I ask? It is very painful that a young boy whom the family of Bademosi welcomed in their home as a cook ended up causing so much havoc and endless pain.
“It is even more painful that the defendant had no motive of working but came into the house with a criminal intention to steal to kill and to destroy.
“The defendant admitted ‘I killed him.’ This was an innocent and unsuspecting family.”
She also asked if the defendant had an allocutus to make to the court before his sentence was delivered. In response, his counsel, the Director of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Aderenra Adeyemi, urged the court to note that the defendant was a first time offender.
“The defendant is a young man and he is remorseful about what he has done. He is a first time offender, there is no evidence that he committed any crime before this. Our humble application is to urge your lordship to grant a sentence of years certain. However, if My Lordship is mindful of upholding what we have agreed in the plea bargain, we will accept the sentence therein.”
The prosecuting counsel, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), however, opposed the prayer.
She said the nature of the crime is one that is gradually becoming a menace in the society and the judiciary has to send a strong signal and therefore maximum sentencing should be delivered.
“We urge this court to grant the maximum sentence for the offence of voluntary manslaughter act as charged.
“The defendant was employed into the home of his boss, entrusted with a high level of responsibilities as a cook.
“Barely three days after resumption of duty, the defendant cut short the life of a man that gave him a new lease of life, depriving him the privilege of enjoying life with his wife and children, which the deceased was entitled to.
“Judicial notice must be taken of the fact that this act of violence by domestic employees against their employers is becoming rampant. The sentence must reflect that this conduct is unacceptable to our society we must send the message to others of like minds like the defendant.”
After hearing from both parties, the judge held that “Sunday Adefonou Anani, defendant in this case, is hereby sentenced to life imprisonment. The term of imprisonment shall commence from today June 25, 2019.”
It will be recalled that the defendant fled the scene of the crime and was apprehended in Imo State and subsequently brought back to Lagos where he was charged with the offences of murder and armed robbery, contrary to Sections 223 and 297 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 at an Igbosere Magistrates’ Court which remanded him on November 12, 2018.
On April 10, he was charged for Mr Bademosi’s murder at the High Court where he pleaded not guilty.
During the course of the short trial, the Lagos State Government told the court that Mr Anani, last October 31 at 3B, Onikoyi Lane, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, unlawfully killed Mr Bademosi by stabbing him with a knife on his chest.
The prosecution also called two witnesses which included the wife of the deceased, Ebunola Bademosi, who informed the court that she found her husband already dead in a pool of his own blood.
“I entered the apartment. By the time I got in, I looked up and saw blood flowing out of my husband’s bedroom. I couldn’t enter my husband’s bedroom because the door was only partially open, but I could see his body lying on the floor. I wasn’t sure of what could be happening inside the bedroom, so, I ran out of the building and started screaming, calling neighbours to help. A couple of people came. I told them to go up and check, that something was happening, that I didn’t know what exactly it was.”