New Judge Assigned for Leadership Newspaper Journalists Forgery caseLatest News, News Monday, November 25th, 2013
Ruth Bamidele, Lagos
Leadership Newspaper has described as suspicious the move of the Federal Government to transfer the trial of two of its journalist to another judge for the third time in less than five months.
Ukaibe are on trial for alleged forgery of a directive by President Goodluck Jonathan on some opposition figures.
They were arraigned before Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Federal High Court on June 27.
But when the defense, represented by Lagos Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) queried the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter, the government promptly withdrew it.
Few weeks later, the case was taken before an Abuja High Court, prompting the arraignment of the two journalists before a new judge, Justice Usman Musale of Federal Capital Territory High Court in Kubwa.
The defense has earlier indicated its intention to call President Jonathan as one of its witness, therefore applied for a stay of proceedings pending the time the President will complete his tenure and be available to appear in court.
Justice Musale, however, declined to stay proceedings by refusing to grant an indefinite adjournment.
The defense appealed against the decision at the court of appeal in Abuja.
Parties were to return to Justice Musale for further proceedings when the defense was informed through a fresh hearing notice dated November 20 that the case had been reassigned by the new Chief Judge of FTC High Court, Justice Ibrahim Bukar, to another Judge, Justice Peter Affen.
The Newspaper said its suspicion over the actual intention of the government stemmed from the coincidence in the home state of the new Judge and President Jonathan, stressing that the constant movement of the case from one judge to another has delayed it.
The defense also said it was curious that Justice Bukar chose a Judge from Bayelsa State, where the President hails from, as the new trial Judge in a case Dr. Jonathan is the complainant.
The newspaper in its appeal urged the appellate court to note that Justice Musale erred in law when he held that the case did not have direct attachment to Jonathan to make him adjourn Sine die (indefinitely) until the end of Jonathan’s tenure.
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