Acquittal of Pinnick, 4 Others By Federal High Court Not Known To Nigerian Law – Olasupo Azeez Esq
An activist and lawyer, Olasupo Azeez, has said that Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu erred to acquit President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, and four other NFF chieftains in their 17-count charge at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Olasupo Azeez Esq, a lawyer with Legions of Legal Consults, argued that the order by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu not only obstructed and usurped the powers of the Attorney-General of the Federation, but also in conflicts with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, extant Laws and case Laws; particularly Section 174 of the constitution and Sections 107 and 108 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
Explaining further, he added that, in as much as the defendants were not proper before the court, that is, the defendants were neither arraigned nor took pleas on the day of their appearance in court, in a 17-count corruption charges like the Amaju Pinnick and four others Vs Federal Government of Nigeria after been issued bench warrant following their refusal to honour court invitations.
And despite that, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on November 5th discharged and acquitted Pinnick, 1st Vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi, 2nd Vice-president Shehu Dikko, Secretary General Muhammed Sanusi and Board Member Ahmed Yusuf Fresh on a 17-count charge.
Azeez further argued: “The acquittal of the defendants in this case is coming as a big surprise and which is not known to our law and does not have a place in our constitution
“Although having gone through the ruling of the court, the court has premised its reason under Section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, which states that ‘where a complainant applied that a matter should be withdrawn the court in its own wisdom can decide to acquit the defendant’.
“We are not unaware of the section 355 of ACJA but we submit with utmost respect that section 355 of ACJA is only in respect where prosecutor is withdrawing the matter on its own volition and not on the authority of the Attorney General of the Federation.”
He added, “And Section 107 and 108 of the same ACJA put it clear that once that power has been exercised by the Attorney General of the Federation, it shall be a discharge and shall not serve as a bar (acquit) to further prosecution and or reframe of charges against the defendants on account of some elements and or facts.”
The Abuja-based law firm, Legions of Legal Consults, through a petition signed by its principal partner, Ayodele Temitope Justice esq has applied for FIAT from the office of the Attorney General to appeal the ruling.
“Due to the above reasons, as lawyers and concerned citizens who believe in the rule of law have humbly applied to the office of the Attorney General for FIAT to appeal the order of the Federal High Court, on pro brono.”