Alleged false information: Judge frowns at manner AGF, Police sought to withdraw case

Justice Peter Kekemeke of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),  Maitama, Abuja, has taken a swipe at both the police and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation over the manner they sought to withdraw a matter before him.

Kekemeke held that the AGF and the police ought to have followed the proper procedure in withdrawing the case.

The judge was ruling on the criminal charge brought against the Managing Director/Chief Executive Office of Ibadan-based ICT firm, Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, Benjamin Joseph, charged with one count of giving false information to the police.

The police alleged that Joseph filed a petition alleging that some persons and companies, including Chief S.O Igbokwe; Princess Kama;  Folashade Oyebode; Pirovics Engineering Service Ltd and Zinoc, among others, committed identity theft, impersonation and criminal conversion of N170 million against his company.

According to the prosecution, the defendant further alleged that the persons and companies involved conspired and forged his signature.

At the resumed hearing of the case, the prosecuting counsel, Audu Garuba, told the court that though the matter was slated for cross-examination of the defendant, the matter would no longer go on.

He told the court that there was a new development as the prosecution was served with an originating summons on a matter pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the jurisdiction of the FCT High Court to entertain the case.

According to Garuba, the summons further urged the court to withdraw any criminal charges against the defendant as directed by the Attorney-General of the Federation.

Responding, counsel for the defendant, Abdulkareem Musa said the defence was not aware of any pending case.

Musa added that what the defence was aware of was the directive given by the AGF that any criminal charge against the defendant should be struck out and therefore, urged the court to strike out the case.

After listening to both sides, Justice Kekemeke held that the proper procedure must be followed if parties want to withdraw the case before the court.

The judge further held that parties can discontinue a case before judgment, adding, however, that proper procedure must be followed in doing that, unlike the present scenario wherein the court is just hearing of letters which were not directed to it.

“The letters from the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to the police were not directed to this court; it is to the Inspector General of Police. The police instituted this case, they should ordinarily obey the directive of the Attorney-General.

“The second letter, addressed to the Registrar of this court, has just been filed at the Federal High Court; it indicates that an action has just been filed at the Federal High Court.

“It (Federal High Court) is a court of coordinate jurisdiction. This court is not subjugated to the Federal High Court. If the police will obey the instruction and make an application to withdraw the case, the court will of course strike out the case.

“Similarly, if the Attorney-General comes to this court personally or by an official to take over prosecution and withdraw the matter, this court will oblige and strike the same out.

“This court is an impartial body and will equally stand by until both parties are ready. Since the prosecution seems not ready to go on, I shall thereby grant an adjournment,” he held.

He adjourned the case until June 20 for continuation of defence.

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