By Doosuur Iwambe
Magistrate Njideka Duru of the Magistrate court sitting in Wuse, Abuja has dissociated herself from the criminal charges instituted by Architect Adamu Stephen Okunade against an Abuja based lawyer, James Idih and Otomiewo Ufuoma.
The magistrate who made declaration in a short ruling on Tuesday said; “I am sending the file back for reassignment to avoid the possibility of being bias. This is because from the line of argument by both lawyers, it is glaring that there will be no headway.
‘’My decision to return the case file is to avoid my emotions taking a greater part of the proceedings. I therefore recuse myself from the matter’’, Magistrate Duru held.
Okunade had through his lawyer Abiodun Olukere dragged Mr Idih alongside Ufuoma before the magistrate court for allegedly fabricating false evidence against him.
According to Okunade, the defendants had tricked one Moses Isha and Gideon Ajogi into signing witness statements on their behalf to defend a suit against him.
The defendants were said to have sometime in 2018 invited Isha and Ajogi to their office to sign a statement to defend a suit fraudulently fabricated to support a petition with the intention to cause injuries on Arch. Okunade.
He averred that the evidence fabricated against him, a respected member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), was willfully and intentionally executed with the sole aim to bring the component of his profession to shame.
Meanwhile, when the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, counsel representing the complainant, Mr Abiodun Olukere informed the court that it was proper for defendant who was representing himself in the matter to enter the dock and take his plea so as not to go against the professional ethics.
Olukere who cited order 36 rule (F) of the professional conduct, Section 109 and 269 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA maintained that where the defendant appears before the court to defend himself in a matter, he is required to enter the dock to take his plea.
He said; ’’I urged the court to order the defendant without any further comments to proceed to the dock to take his plea.
‘’Entertaining any further observation from him from the bar will be in gross violation of S36 (11) of the amended constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria’’.
In his response, the defendant, Mr Idih who cited the case of Agu v Ezenwa reported in volume 10 of the 2020 weekly law report told the court that a counsel can appear for himself robe in a matter which he is an accuse enjoying the full privileges accorded to a lawyer.
He added that it will not be proper to subject a lawyer to the dock in a matter he appears to defend himself.
Replying on point of law, Olukere told the court that he would not want to continue with the matter on ground that the defendant was misdirecting the court.
The magistrate then ruled that ‘’having considered what has happened and will continue happen on disagreement over process, it has become pertinent that the court should recuse itself from the hearing so to make the court free from bias.
‘’The case file is hereby returned to the central registry for reassignment’’.
Some of the charges read: ‘’sometimes around Nov, 2017 and early 2018, the defendant with the intent to maliciously injure the person of the complainant by way of fabricating false evidence invited to his chamber Gideon Ajogi and Moses Isha on separate dates to sign witness statements he made on their behalf to defend a suit.
‘’The defendant without knowledge of the said Gideon Ajogi and Moses Isha however converted the respective statements signed in his chamber to witness statement on oath to support a fictitious petition dated Feb 27, 2018 to the secretary general of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), against the complainant.
‘’The fictitious Petition dated February 27, 2018 was supported by witness statements on oath of Otomiewo Ufaoma, with purported witness the statement on oath of Moses Isah and Ajogi Gideen To fraudulent misrepresent and support the petition
‘’The alleged deponents to the statements On oath dated 26/02/2018 in Support of the petition have by separate affidavits dated 14/01/2020 and 03/03/2020 before the Commissioner for oath of Federal Capital High Court denounced knowledge to their alleged statements on oath in support of the fictitious Petition’’.