FG re-arraigns Leadership Newspapers’ journalists in court


leadership_newspaper_journalists_charged_with_felonyThe Federal Government on Thursday re-arraigned two journalist and the company secretary of Leadership Newspapers before an FCT High Court on an 11-count charge bothering on felony and forgery.

Those arraigned are the Political Editor of the newspaper, Tony Amokeodo; a Political Reporter, Chibuzor Ukaibe, the Company Secretary, Omofuma Juliane.

Prosecuting counsel Adegboyega Awomolo said that on April 3, the three accused persons allegedly conspired to commit felony by forging a document titled, “presidential directive’’.

Awomolo said the document had the seal of the office of the president and was published on the front page of Leadership Newspaper of April 3.

He said the accused persons committed the offences of conspiracy, felony and attempting to excite public feeling of disaffection against the president.

Awomolo, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that the offences contravened Sections 97, 363 and 366 of the Penal Code.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Awomolo applied that the first and second accused should be remanded in prison custody and a date for the trial.

“We thought that the accused persons will plead guilty and save the precious time of the court, they have pledged not guilty. I apply for a date for trial.

“I also apply that the first and second accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the date of trial.

“They are standing trial for offences for which, if convicted, they may be sentenced to more than three-year imprisonment,’’ he argued.

The Counsel for the defendants, Mr Femi Falana objected to the application, and prayed the court to grant bail to the accused persons.

“My learned colleague and I discussed a wide range of issues before coming to court this morning, including the issue of bail, but he did not make full disclosure.

“We are applying for the bail of the first and second accused persons and pray that they should not be remanded in prison custody.

“The accused persons were earlier charged to a Federal High Court, granted bail, met the bail conditions and they never failed to appear in court. Even this morning they came on their own,’’ he said.

Falana said that the accused had no previous criminal record.

“When I used to defend the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, while applying for his bail I usually tell the court that he had a good criminal record because he never jumps bail.

“But these accused persons have no criminal record at all and so, I pray the court to grant them bail,” he urged.

The presiding judge, Justice Usman Musale, granted bail to the first and second accused persons in the sum of N500,000 each with one surety each in like sum.

Musale adjourned the case to July 16, for hearing.

The accused had earlier been arraigned before Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Federal High Court on April 16, on a six-count charge of forgery.

However, on April 30, the Federal Government, through a notice of discontinuation of charges dated April 30, withdrew the initial six-count charge against the accused.

This was sequel to a notice of preliminary objection filed by Falana challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the complaint.

Falana had argued that the charges brought against the accused relate only to forgery and not to any loss of revenue by the Federal Government.

“The Federal High Court, therefore, has no jurisdiction to entertain these offences,’’ he had argued.


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