Court nullifies criminal charges against Femi Gbajabiamila
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Bwari has nullified criminal charge proceedings of the Grade 1 Area Court, Karishi, Abuja, the African Peoples Party (APP) brought against Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
In an application for judicial review for an order of certiorari, Gbajabiamila in a motion on notice pursuant to Section 12 of FCT Area Courts Act 2010, Order 44, Rule (A) and High Court of the FCT Rules 2018, challenged the criminal proceedings against him.
The party and one Anas Isa Mohammed had alleged that Gbajabiamila lied on oath, while filing Form CF001 of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the 2019 general elections that he was never convicted of any crime.
The respondents had argued that the State Bar of Georgia, United States of America had in 2007 found the Speaker guilty of professional misconduct.
But delivering judgement yesterday, Justice Othman Musa, quashed the criminal charge on the ground that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter, insisting that the lower court acted recklessly in a matter it has no jurisdiction over.
In the suit marked: FCT/HC/BW/M/267/19, Justice Musa also held that the allegation of disciplinary proceedings leveled against Gbajabiamila does not amount to criminal conviction by a court of law.
Consequently, the court declared the proceedings and decisions of the Grade 1 Area Court of May 30, 2019 unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void.Justice Musa also stated that if Gbajabiamila gave a false information in the course of filing out his INEC Form CF001 as alleged by the respondents, a criminal charge ought to have been filed against him at either the Federal High Court or FCT High Court, as prescribed by the Electoral Act.
“The first respondent (APP) is not a legal officer of INEC. Criminal matters are only enforceable by a law enforcement agency. I so hold,” the judge said.
Citing the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Amaechi Versus INEC 2008, Justice Musa argued that an indictment through a disciplinary committee or commission that is not a court of law recognised by the constitution does not amount to criminal conviction.
“The order of February 26, 2007 of the State Bar of Georgia, United States of America against Gbajabiamila does not amount to a criminal offence known to any Nigerian law. “I therefore hold the view that the direct criminal complaint against Gbajabiamila was misconceived.
“Having dutifully reviewed all the facts and the laws that have been presented before the court, and having soberly reflected on the robust arguments of counsel in the matter, I am satisfied that the reliefs of the application (Gbajabiamila) are granted. “Consequently, an order is hereby made nullifying the entire proceedings of the Grade 1 Area Court, Karishi, Abuja,” Justice Musa held
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