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Lawyer petitioned NJC over biased practices, intimidation, others

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A legal practitioner, Barr. Joseph Jiakponna has urged the Nigerian Judicial Commission, NJC, to investigate the act of bias, partial verdict, and sitting on appeals against his own judgement by Hon.Justice Ismail Ijelu.

The petitioner said the ruling and order of Justice Ijelu propelled the acts of remanding a husband and wife, including his company, by coercing the defendant to pay a debt allegedly owed to a business partner.

The petitioner wondered how the wife of the defendant and his household even his mechanic and marketing officer in the bank who do not know anything on the alleged fraud, and neither invited, nor arrested by the Police, should be remanded and charged to court without any evidence of business transactions against them, even as the transaction is civil in nature.

In a petition, captioned: “Matter of the State of Lagos V. Ogunbanjo Olusegun Mikhail & ORS in Charge No: ID/21559C/2023, dated Monday, March 25 and copied to nine different groups, the Lawyer said, the crux of the matter came on the heels of petition by one, Eniola Olusola Ikuyajesin, alleging that, “our client duped him to the tune of N7 billion (Seven Billion Naira) and avoided paying back the money.

After the petition had been written and filed before the NJC and copied to other institutions, to wit, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary: the House Committee on the Judiciary: National Human Rights Commission Abuja: the Nigerian Bar Association: the Chairman, Nigeria Press Council: Deputy Sheriff of Ikeja High Court, as well as the Chief Registrar of Ikeja High Court on the 25th day of March, 2024.

But on the 28th of March, Hon. Justice Ijelu curiously slammed contempt charges and issued a bench warrant against the whole family of Mr. Olusegun Ogunbanjo.

The Nigerian Police, EFCC, and the Civil Defence Corp have laid seige on the premises of Mr. Olusegun Ogunbanjo.

The Petitioner is now bringing this to the attention of the Nigerian Judiciary Commission to wade into this action before it is too late and the integrity of the judiciary is maligned.

The Police, according to the petition, investigated the matter by obtaining remand orders from the Magistrate court, but was vacated after two months.

“Our Client was further remanded at the State CID Panti, Yaba, Lagos”

“On March 8, 2023, our client was taken to another Magistrate Court, Yaba in Charge No. A/25/2023 before His Honour, Mr. Adeola Olatunbosun, wherein the court granted him bail and adjourned the case for trial twice. ”

“The charge sheet and record of proceedings dated CTC obtained on the 15th, are herein attached and referred to Annexure CJ15 and they desired and attempted to re-arrest him that same day, but they failed”, the petition read in part.

The petitioner howecer, filed an application to enforce the fundamental rights of his client at the Federal High Court in suit no. FHC/L/CS/342/2023 before Justice Oweibo, who granted a restraining order against the police and EFCC from arresting Mr. Olusegun Ogunbanjo.

But to our greatest surprise, “we got a notice that the matter is now before Hon. Justice Nicol-Clay, Ikeja High Court in Charge No. ID/21559C/2023. The information paper is herein annexed and referred to as Annexure CJ16.”

“We approached the court, and on the date for mention, we informed the court that this same matter with the same facts and defendant is pending at the magistrate court and adjourned for trial.”

“The prosecution is aware that the matter is still pending at the magistrate court; and others joined in the charge were not included in the petition, the investigation at the State CID Panti, Yaba and in the evidence in totality”

“The other persons joined were members of the family of the defendant (our client).

“The Honourable Justice Nicol-Clay frowned at their action and hinted we file for striking out of the matter for abuse of court processes, and it was so adjourned. On investigation, the nominal complainant wrote a letter asking the Administrative Judge, Justice Nicol-Clay, to transfer the matter to another Judge in a letter dated 28th September 2023.

Astonishingly, the matter was not only transfered the same date of the letter, but it was taken directly to Justice Ijelu’s court that same day. The said letter is anned as CJ19. Also in the charge both at Magistrate and the High Court, the amount involved as against that of N7 billion in the petition is N450 million, the information or the charge at the High Court is herein annexed as Annexure CJ17”.

“Shockingly, our client came across interim order of forfeiture pasted on several houses of his in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states from Hon. Justice Ijelu court, using a suit no instead of charge against the defendants in Re: Attorney- G v. Olusegun Ogunbanjo & ors, rather than using the State of Lagos, which is the proper position in criminal prosecutions in Lagos state.

It was discovered that the prosecution filed an undated motion exparte seeking abridgement of time from 8th of November, 2023 which the date fixed earlier by Justice Nicol-Clay for the hearing of the motion for striking out the charge at the High court to 23rd October, 2023. It was on that same date of the 23rd day of October that Justice Ijelu granted the application for abridgement and ordered an interim forfeiture of Mr. Olusegun Ogunbanjo’ s properties, bearing a clear work of sneaky deceit. The processes are annexed as CJ20 and CJ2OA.

As envisaged, Justice I.O. Ijelu on the 23rd of February 2024 dismissed the Notice of Preliminary Objection and ordered that the husband and wife and their household appear in court in a case that has no connotation of criminality, hence, we filed a motion for stay of proceedings and stay of execution at the court of Appeal, Lagos in Appeal No. CA/ L/174/24 with the appeal being entered.

On March 14, when the motion was set for hearing, Justice Ijelu started rampaging, well upset about this.

The prosecution admitted to being with the pending applications of the processes filed at the court of appeal.

Hon.Justice Ijelu claimed that the case file is not before the court but notwithstanding, he must go on with the matter, hence he ordered the prosecution to make their submission immediately without allowing the Counsel to the defendant move his application for stay of execution and proceedings pending the determination of the appeal. At the end of the day, Justice Ijelu, in his ruling in tespect of the submission of the prosecution, refused to grant
the application, even where the prosecution had admitted in open court that they have been served.

He however, cautioned in the open court that, “if Jiakponna dare file any more processes, harassing him with papers from the Appeal Court, “he would deal with him, put him in prison for contempt of the court and lock him behind bars”.

Since the petitioner could not succumb to the threats, he filed a stay of proceedings and stay of execution before the Court of Appeal,filed and dated March 18, 2024, along with an amended Notice of Appeal and Record of Appeal have been fully-filed.

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