A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, discharged and acquitted Prof. Obiajulu Obikeze and four others of allegations bordering on forgery of chieftaincy documents.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on the defendants’ motion on notice dated April 29, 2022, and filed by their counsel, Kelvin Nwufo, SAN, quashed the 11-count charge in its entirety for being invalid, unconstitutional and ultra vires.
“The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted. This is the order of this court,” Justice Ekwo declared.
The judge agreed with the defendants that filing the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/184/2021 after a similar matter had already been decided in an Anambra High Court and two more suits were still pending before the courts on same subject matter was an abuse of court process.
“It is the law that where persons have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, they are bound by the judgement thereof,” he said.
It would be recalled that the police had, on Feb 22, 2022, arraigned Prof. Obikeze, who works with the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, formerly known as Anambra State University Igbariam in Anambra,
Obikeze, the 1st defendant, was arraigned alongside Dr Raymond Ofor, Chief Ezue, Sir Amobi Nwafor and Okafor Bethram IK as 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the Inspector-General of Police, was the complainant in the 11-count charge.
The defendants, however, pleaded non-guilty to all the charges.
In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/184/2021 dated and filed on July 6, 2021, by the prosecution lawyer, Celestine Odo, the defendants were charged for the offences of conspiracy, forgery of the constitution of the Igweship Constitution of Awa, and punishable under Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.
They were alleged to have committed the offence around Jan.15, 2019, at Awa, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra.
While count two accused them of uttering forged documents, count three accused them of making “a forged letter to the Special Adviser to the Governor of Anambra on Chieftaincy and Towns Union Matters.
The document was titled, “Submission of Awa Chieftaincy Constitution,” knowing it to be false, with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine at the Government House, Awka, Anambra State.”
But in a preliminary objection dated April 29, 2022, the defendants’ lawyer, Nwufo, prayed the court to dismiss the charge for being an abuse of court process.
The senior lawyer argued that an High Court of Anambra had already delivered judgment in a similar matter in suit number: AG/155/2018 on Jan. 29, 2020 in which the court dismissed the case.
Besides, he said that two others matters were pending in the state courts.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Ekwo held that even if someone later wrote a petition on a matter that judgement had been given, It was the duty of the police to advise the parties or any person connected thereto to either obey the judgement or proceed on appeal.
“It can be seen from the respective averments of the parties to this application that the criminal charge in this case, is an attempt by the nominal complainants to use the police to intimidate, harass, frighten and cow the defendants/applicants.
“On this ground, I find that this charge is a product of self-help and cannot be allowed to stand and I so hold. I make an order dismissing it,” he declared.