The Court of Appeal on Monday in Abuja struck out an appeal filed by the Federal Government challenging the discharge of Justice Adeniyi Ademla, his wife Olubowale, and Joe Agi (SAN), from answering fraud charges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that an FCT High Court had on April 5 dismissed all 18 counts, including gratification charges preferred against them following ruling on a no-case-submission application.
Delivering judgment, Justice Olabisi Ige held that all the objections raised in the Notice of Appeal filed by the appellant were un-meritorious.
The judge said it was not in the place of law and practice direction of the court to interfere with a decision of the trial court without substantial reasons.
According to him, the grounds upon which the appellant is seeking the setting aside of the ruling of the trial court are not properly laid.
He said the appellant had not been able to discountenance the reasons that warranted the discharge of the three respondents.
Justice Ige held that some of the prosecution witnesses in the matter at the trial court had completely acted in ignorance of the situation they investigated.
On the voiding of Sections 53 and 60 of the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) Act, which the trial held was in conflict with Section 36 (5) of the Constitution; the judge said the decision subsisted.
NAN reports that Sections 53 and 60 hinge on the burden of proof of allegations of gratification.
Justice Ige however said that sections of an Act could only be voided to the extent of their inconsistency with the Constitution.
“From the notice of appeal, no mention was made on this aspect which means that the appellant is satisfied with the striking down of Sections 53 and 60 of the ICPC Act.
“Having not appealed against the striking down of Sections 53 and 60 of the ICPC Act, the decision of the trial court subsists.
“All the three issues brought for the court to decide are hereby ruled against the appellant and the appeal is struck out for lacking in merit.
“The ruling of justice Jude Okeke of the FCT High Court delivered on April 5 is hereby affirmed’’, the judge held.
The charges were filed by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation following the raid by Department of State Service’s operatives on the judge’s house on Oct. 7, 2016.
The trial court had ruled that the prosecution was unable to make out a prima facie case with respect to any of the 18 counts on concluding its case with 19 witnesses
The court held that it would amount to asking the defendants to prove their innocence contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required the prosecution to prove their guilt.
Ademola, a retired justice of the Federal High Court, Abuja, his wife and Agi had stood the trial on allegations of gratification to influence the decisions of cases before the former. (NAN)