Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Judicial Corruption: Calabar Community cries foul, calls for investigation by AG

Orchardson Umoh Esq ,Counsel to Kasuk II Qua Clan ,Calabar Municipal LGA

…It is an anomaly for an accused to request change of prosecutor …Umoh

In recent times there have been great agitations against the perceived corruption that has beclouded the Nigerian judiciary, the judiciary which is supposed to be last hope of justice for the common man has been proven beyond reasonable doubt to have been infected with the virus of corruption. 

In the same way, the people of Kasuk II Qua Clan in Calabar Municipality LGA have raised an alarm over what they described as judicial corruption following the change of the counsel prosecuting a defendant who was charged for destroying about 70,000 raffia palms in their land.

The matter in Charge number: MC/66OC/2017 involving the state vs. Effiom Francis Anor instituted in 2017 was suddenly reassigned to another prosecutor in an unusual manner and suddenly speeds up and ruling wants to be passed almost immediately without the knowledge of the complainant.

The Complainant, Clan Head of Kasuk II Qua Clan,HRH Ededem Ayito who raised the alarm said he was a bit surprised because the defendant, Effiom Francis  had earlier boasted that he was going to remove the matter from the original prosecutor who started  the case and was also going to make sure that the matter was assigned to a magistrate of his choice.

His words:" When it was established that the raffia palms numbering about 70,000 stands worth over 100million were destroyed by a group of boys who alleged that they were sent by Francis Effiom, went to the police and the matter later charged was to Magistrate court, he boasted that nothing will happen, that he was going to surprise Kasuk II people and make sure another counsel handled the matter.

"This is exactly what is happening as we speak, because the case was reassigned to another prosecutor on their request, I don't really understand how that can be possible because I don't know if that is admissible in law for a defendant or an accused person to be the one to determine who prosecutes him .

"They wrote a petition against the original prosecutor that he only handles civil matters and not criminal matters and on that ground the case was reassigned to a counsel whom they boasted would do their bidding and they also made sure that the matter was taken to Port court and to a Magistrate of their choice .

"Apart from that the speedy way the matter was adjourned is very disturbing because since 2017 nothing like this has happened then all of a sudden in this period of COVID-19 there is a speed up of the matter, what is really the urgency all about, and in this instance too, the accused person has started trespassing into the land where he destroyed that palms to claim ownership while the matter is still in court.

"we have written to the Attorney General of the state to reassign the matter to another court as we have lost confidence in the court that the matter is currently being handled .We don't understand what the sudden rush is all about, we have written to the AG about the way and manner the matter is being handled but it was ignored and they went ahead with it, with the Magistrate ignoring the whole petition, it is really disturbing and unfair.

"As we speak there could be break down of law and order, we have written to the AG to withdraw the case from that court to another one, it should be transferred to another court because we have lost faith in the current court where it is being handled .Judgment has not been given yet but the accused persons is already parading himself as owner of my land and the urgency in the way the matter is being handled is really disturbing.

On his part the counsel to Kasuk II Clan,Orchardson  Umoh  the matter my clients have been alleging that it has been compromised ,the situation is gravely anomalous ,it is an anomaly for an accused person who is being prosecuted in court or standing trial in court for the person to request that the counsel prosecuting them should be changed and that request was made through the office of the Attorney General of the state .

"The entire community feels that the case has been compromised because the office of the AG granted the request of suspects standing trial for specific offenses to replace the prosecutor, prosecuting them with someone else whom they are comfortable with, this is an anomaly and there is a compromise.

"The case has been assigned to Someone  whom the accused is comfortable with is now handling the matter ,we are asking that the matter be reassigned or  the case file returned  to the police , or give us a FIAT ,there  is a clear sign that the matter has been compromised  ,it is an anomaly ,iit is absurd ,it is an error in law," he decried .