On November 2, the Federal High Court in Abuja will rule on a preliminary objection that questions the court’s authority to hear a criminal case involving document falsification by a lawyer and his associates.
In 2018, the police in Abuja, Nigeria, filed 11 counts of forgery against Barr. Everistus Ugwuowo, 39, and three individuals related to a property in Gwarinpa.
A certain Mrs. Grace Audu had written a report on the situation.
Umar Adamu (age 41), Usman Audu (age 49), and Adole Christopher (age 29) are the other suspects.
They allegedly worked together to fabricate a “Deed of Assignment” for the property.
Mr. Grema Umar’s property at House 11, 662 Road, Gwarinpa 2, Estate, Abuja was allegedly sold by the primary suspect and his accomplices without necessary authorization.
An Irrevocable Power of Attorney, a letter of checking in of owner occupier said to have been signed by Grema Umar, and other receipts are also among the documents that the suspects are accused of forging.
At the outset of the trial, they all pled not guilty to charges that they fraudulently obtained N29 million from the victim under the guise of selling the property.
Ugwuowo, the primary suspect, allegedly issued a dishonoured cheque when his victim demanded the return of all the money he had taken from her once she realized the transaction was false.
The police claimed they committed a crime that violated Section 8 of the Advance fee fraud and other similar offences Act 2006 by forging documents, conspiring to conduct a felony, and acquiring money via false pretenses.
The suspects were also accused of breaking the Advance fee fraud and other similar offences Act 2006 (Section 1(1)) and the Miscellaneous Offenses Act CAP M17 Law of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 (Sections 3(6), 1(2)(C)).
Issuing a dishonoured cheque, in violation of Section 1(1) of the dishonoured cheque Act, CAP D11 LFN 2004, is another charge against the suspects.
Justice Egwuatu Obiora postponed ruling on a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction until November 2, during the rescheduled hearing.
Counsel for Adamu, the second defendant, Mr Ebuka Agwu, informed the court that an application had been filed questioning the court’s authority to hear the case.
Agwu claims that the police lack the authority to bring such a case to court because only the Attorney-General of the Federation has the authority to do so under the law.
He used Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 104–106 in support of his position.
The attorneys for the first, third, and fourth defendants all took positions consistent with the ACJA.
He informed the court that a written address had been submitted in support of his position on the ACJA provisions.
Earlier, Mr. Yomi Olokeogun, counsel for the 1st defendant, told the court that his client, Ugwuowo, was hospitalized due to high blood pressure and would not be able to attend the hearing.
A copy of the hospital’s medical report, Olokeogun told the judge, had been submitted as evidence of his client’s genuine condition.
Since his client was not present, he asked the court to exercise its discretion.
The prosecution attorney had previously requested that the court dismiss the medical report on the grounds that it was not issued by an officially recognized government hospital.
He also asked the judge to throw out the preliminary objection, arguing that the trial had already been postponed too many times for no good reason.