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Judiciary: Bill to legalise Virtual Court proceedings passes 1st reading in Senate

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President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan.
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The Senate on Tuesday passed for first reading, a Constitution alteration bill seeking for legalisation of virtual court proceedings.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti) during plenary was entitled “1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 418).

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A copy of the draft bill made available to news men was aimed at ensuring the corresponding amedment of relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, in giving legal teeth to virtual court proceedings.

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The provisions of the bill as contained in the draft copy, include Section 36 sub-section (3) which states thus ” this section is hereby amended by the addition of the following:

” Provided that nothing in this subsection shall invalidate proceedings of a court or that of a tribunal relating to matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

” (including the announcement of the decisions of the court or tribunal) where same is held by remote hearing or any virtual means now in existence or yet to be developed.

“Section 36 subsection (4) is hereby amended by addition of sub-paragraph (c) as follows: (c) nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall invalidate proceedings of a court or the proceedings of a tribunal relating to matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section.

“Including the announcement of the decisions of the court or tribunal where same is held by remote hearing or any virtual means now in existence or yet to be developed.

“Section 36 subsection (12) is hereby amended by addition of the following subsection (13): In this section, “remote hearing” means proceedings or hearing of court conducted via zoom, skype, whatsapp video or any other social media platform or technological innovation”.

The drafter of the bill explains further that section 36 (3) is sufficiently controversial enough now in terms of requirement of public hearing and determination of disputes.

This, according to Bamidele, endangers the results of proceedings eventually held virtually except the amendment is done urgently, the whole judicial functions of the nation will remain paralysed.

“The bill being an urgently needed one needs to be given expeditious consideration and passage .

” It is s a case of emergency now. Upon second Reading, the states can be given three days to make returns so that before the end of the month, the process is completed.

“The National Judicial Council (NJC) in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of courts to hold courtroom proceedings, had taken steps to ensure continued administration of justice.

”Which is through virtual proceedings in accordance with global best practices, with some state Chief Judges coming out to openly adopt and implement the NJC guidelines.

“However, lawyers have been divided over this issue as there has been an ongoing debate among legal practitioners as to whether or not virtual hearing is real hearing as provided for in the Constitution.

“While some are insisting that the word “public” in the Constitution shall continue to mean  physical court room or other designated place unless and until the relevant provisions in section 36 of the Constitution are amended”, he said .

However, Bamidele, member of the Body of Benchers, said that in the meantime, the NJC had a responsibility to work with stakeholders to manage the current situation.

“Until we rewrite our Constitution in this regard as neither the practice direction, rules of court, nor an Act of the National Assembly can change the legal position so that we do not bury our heads in the sand.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Judiciary

CJN Charges Acting FCT CJ, Others To Be impartial, Fair To All

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The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad has urged the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf  to be impartial, fair to all, and apply justice and equity in all his undertakings.
 
Muhammad made the call during the swearing-in of Baba-Yusuf and five Khadis of the Sharia Court of Appeal whose appointments were  earlier approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. adsbygoogle || []).push({});
 
Baba-Yusuf’s appointment took effect from Aug. 1, 2021 following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
 
The CJN while administering the oath of office said, ”the entire letters and words of the oath you have taken must reside in a prime place of your heart.
 
”Let it be generously applied in the daily management of both human and material resources. 
 
You are expected to conduct your affairs within the ambit of the law and the oath that has just been administered on you.
 
He urged them to rise and operate above every primordial sentiment that might blight their tenures.
 
There is no doubt that you all will definitely be tempted and even intimidated in different ways and guises but you should always remain firm and unshaken because good conscience fears no threat”. 
 
Informavores! gathered that Baba-Yusuf who was born in Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi on June 1, 1962 attended the LGEA Primary School Ankpa from 1966 to 1971, from where he proceeded to St Charles College, Ankpa between 1972 to 1976 and did his A levels at School of Basic Studies, Ugbokolo, Benue State from 1977 to 1980.
 
He then proceeded to the University of Lagos in 1980 where he obtained his LLB in 1983 and  moved to the Law School and was called to the Bar 1984.
 
Baba-Yusuf after completing his NYSC in 1985, joined the services of the Judiciary in 1985 as Magistrate Grade II and rose through the ranks to become the Chief Registrar, Kogi State High Court in 1993.
 
He later joined the FCT Judiciary on transfer of service same year and was appointed High Court Judge in 1998 from which position he has just been appointed Acting Chief Judge.
 
Informavores! further gathered that the Khadis are Justices Salisu Garba, Bashir Danmaisule, Muhammad A. Sadis, Lawa Sule and Abdullahi Adam Al-Ilorin.
 
Source: NAN

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Judiciary

Kogi Acting Chief Judge Hails Establishment of Public Defender and Citizens Right Commission

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The Acting Chief Judge of Kogi State, Hon. Justice Henry Olusiyi, has commended Governor Yahaya Bello for the establishment of Office of the Public Defender and Citizens’ Rights Commission (PDCRC), aimed at providing legal service free of charge to indigent citizens.

The chief judge gave the commendation when the Director General of the Commission, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, led a team of lawyers in an advocacy visit to his office on in Lokoja yesterday.

Olusiyi thanked the governor for establishing the commission saying, ”by this singular action His Excellency, Gov. Yahaya Bello, has proved that he is people’s oriented and friendly governor especially to the downtrodden.

He also eulogised the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Ibrahim Sanni Muhammed SAN, for the initiative and the critical transformation in the sector.

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The chief judge promised by God’s grace to build on the past legacies of his predecessor and also surpass them.

He noted that Zakari’s appointment as the pioneer DG of the commission was putting a round peg in a round hole, noting that he is hardworking, knowledgeable and a committed legal officer.

He, therefore, urged the DG to ensure that he focus and deliver on the core mandate of the commission.

”Anytime you call on us we will make sure that your cases are giving expeditious action and speedy hearing.

”Our doors are widely opened and we will always stand by you to give you the necessary support”, Olusiyi said.

Earlier, the DG of the Commission, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, said the team were in C.J’s office to introduce the commission to him, intimate him of their programmes, and solicit for his support, cooperation and advise on their activities.

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Zakari noted the State Government had recently posted 12 Lawyers to work in the commission with other supportive staff, aimed at speeding the dispensation of criminal justice act in the state

”Access to justice should be of great concern to every Government; the multipliers effect are delay in justice, prison congestion and increase in crime rate”, he said.

The DG explained that the core mandate of the commission is to provide free legal service to the citizens and residents of Kogi who mIght not be able to afford the service lawyers, and protect the right of every resident of Kogi across the 21 LGAs.

”The commission is also saddled with the responsibility to provide legal representation in court for both civil and criminal matters.

“The commission is independent as it is the creation of the statute and expected operate as such.

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”We solicit for your guidance, prayers and support including the area of integrity, to ensure that the commission lives up to her mandate or objectives.

”What will sustain the commission is the integrity of the staff; your patronage is key to the success of our work”, Zakari said.

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Judiciary

Sarat Ojoma Yusuf Confirms Execution of Court Judgment, Sues Journalists for Cruel Slanders, Libel, Others…

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Sarat Ojoma Yusuf, the daughter of Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu village, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi state and the elder sister of late Hafsat Urane Yusuf through her Counsel, Barrister Adesoji S. Lawal has confirmed that she indeed executed a court judgment, attaching properties of AbdulRahman Obaje on 17th July, 2020.

Recall that Abdulrahman had cried out that Late Hafsat Urane Yusuf the daughter of Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu village, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi state had on the Friday 17th July, 2020 successfully executed a court judgment from her grave, when Sarat Ojoma Yusuf led a court official, a policeman and a truck to cart away his properties.

Abdulrahman said that, “Late Hafsat Urane Yusuf the daughter of Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu village, Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi state had on the Friday 17th July, 2020 successfully executed a court judgment from her grave against a popular ICT pundit and Investigative journalist, Prince Abdulrahman Obaje by attaching his household properties.

“According to a court process dated 19/9/2018, Hafsat Urane Yusuf that died on the 10th of October, 2017, ten (10) days after remarrying to one Yusuf MKay, is asking Abdulrahman to pay the sum of Five hundred and six thousand, seven hundred naira (#506, 700:00k) or go to prison.”

In a DIRECT CRIMINAL COMPLAINT, and received on 13th August, 2020, Sarat through her lawyer, Barrister Adesoji S. Lawal & Associates said, “Kindly cause a Criminal Summon to be issued against the Defendant pursuant to Section 88, 89 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 in the following terms:

PARTICULARS OF COMPLAINT

  1. The Compliant is a public servant, an house wife and a sister in-law to the defendant whose sister got married to him under Islamic rites.
  2. Unfortunately on account of the disagreeable ways and manners of the defendant which entails violence, inability to live up to his marital responsibilities etc the marriage was dissolved at the instance of the sister to the Complainant by the Upper Area Court, Karu in 2012.
  3. Upon dissolution of the said marriage the court awarded a judgment Sum calculable at #10,000(Ten thousand naira) only monthly as an order of maintenance against the defendant which aggregate has accrued to about #700,000(Seven hundred thousand naira) only at the time of filling this suit the sum bring left unpaid by the defendant.
  4. Rather than obey the court’s Order awarding judgment sum against him the defendant resorted to filling spurious lawsuit to annoy the Claimant and her family which were serially struck out for their incompetence at various times.
  5. Thus frustrated the defendant took to defaming the names and reputation of the Complainant and members of her family by going about with cruel slanders, libelous publications and calumny to members of the society thereby lowering their estimates and moral worth in the opinion of many right thinking members of the society.
  6. That as an instance of this the defendant caused to be published on 10th February, 2020 injurious and defamatory remarks to the effect that the complainant is irresponsible and whose dignity as a woman is questionable and the one that caused the breakdown of his marriage.
  7. Upon seeing this defamatory publication the Complainant caused a letter to be written to the defendant dated 6th July 2020 demanding a retraction and an apology of the offensive remarks. A copy of the letter served through the defendant’s lawyer but refused to be collected is herewith attached and marked Exhibit A.
  8. Whilst a response to the said letter is being awaited from the defendant the officials of Upper Area Court, moved on to the defendant’s premises in Jikwoyi, Abuja to execute the judgment of the court earlier referred to.
  9. Though the properties attached in satisfaction of the said judgment hardly equates the judgment sum is has prompted the defendant to amplify and redouble his efforts to orchestrate a smear campaign and character assassination against the complainant and her family members not leaving behind his dead wife whom he described as promiscuous even in death.
  10. As an instance of the above the defendant has invaded the social media pages of the Complainant on Facebook to lift her picture for his slanderous and defamatory ends and causing two online cables news networks namely RegentAfrican Times published by Regent Africa Times Group of Publication and one Capitalpost.ng on 27th July, 2020 and 25th July 2020 respectively to publish defamatory contents against the Complainant and her family alleging them of fraudulently obtaining a Court Judgment to be executed against him extorting money from him, making attempt on his life and that of his family amidst other defamatory remarks
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WHEREOF the act of the defendants constitutes the offence of Defamation contrary to S.392 Penal Code Law.

The defendant declined comment, however making available to journalists documents, including the RULING WRITTEN AND DELIVERED BY JUSTICE MOMODU DIRISU HON. KADI 1 of an appeal SCA/FCT/M/50/2019 between ABDULRAHMAN ADEJOH OBAJE AND HAFSAT URANE YUSUF on the ground that the matter lack proper parties, saying “dead person is not a legal person”.

Full Text:

RULING WRITTEN AND DELIVERED BY JUSTICE MOMODU DIRISU HON. KADI 1

THIS IS A MOTION ON NOTICE BROUGHT IN PURSUANT TO ORDER 4 RULE 1 AND 3 OF THE SHARIA COURT APPEAL RULES 1960 SECTION 6 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPBULIC OF NIGERIA 1999 (AS AMENDED) AND UNDER THE INHERENT JURISDICTION OF THE HONORABLE COURT.

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Moving the motion, counsel to the applicant states that the motion is praying this Honorable Court for the following four (4) reliefs:

  1. AN ORDER for enlargement of time within which the Appellant/Applicant shall appeal against part of the decision contained in the judgement of the FCT Upper Area Court sitting in Karu- Abuja by the Hon. Judge Ibrahim Usman Waliyyulah, dated 20/1/2016.
  2. AN ORDER Granting leave to the Appelant/Applicant to file notice/grounds of appeal out of time against the decision contained in the judgment of the FCT Upper Area Court sitting in Karu- Abuja by the Hon. Judge Ibrahim Usman Waliyyulah, dated 20/1/2016.
  3. AN ORDER deeming the Notice/Grounds of Appeal filed herewith out of time as properly filed and served, necessary fee having duly paid.
  4. Any other or further orders as this Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

Counsel, submit that the application is supported by 24 paragraph affidavit and they rely on all the paragraphs particularly paragraphs 9, 15 and 19. They also relied on all the Exhibits attached. Submit that there was a domestic arrangement between the applicant and the Respondent. The Applicant was to bring food instead of money. They had to appeal since settlement has broken down.

Counsel to the Respondent Submit that they filed a counter-affidavit of nine paragraphs. They rely on all the depositions. They also filed a written address. They adopt the written address as their oral submission. They urge the court to dismiss the application with heavy cost.

Submit that the applicant has failed woefully to establish valid ground why the application should be granted. Therefore, Counsel urge the Court to refuse the application. Counsel to the Respondent raised other issues why the application should be refused. Submit that the Respondent is a dead person, hence this Honourable Court has no jurisdiction to try a dead person. That this is certain in paragraphs 16 of Applicant’s affidavit.

Finally urge the Court to refuse the application with special cost.

We have painstakingly, considered the materials put before us by the Applicant and the Respondent. We shall raise a sole issue for the determination of this Court. The issue is if it is ascertained that the Respondent is a dead person, whether this Honourable Court has the jurisdiction to entertain this application.

The parties in this application are Abdulrahman Adejoh Obaje as applicant and Hafsat Urane Yusuf as the Respondent.

As to who is the Respondent, we shall have recourse to paragraph 2 of the Counter-Affidavit filed by one Sarat Ojoma Yusuf. I hereby reproduce the averment.

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“That sometime in late 2018, I was served with an application for the extention of time to appeal/judgment delivered by Upper Area Court, Karu in CV/17/13 between Hafsat Urane Yusuf V. Abdur Rahman Adejoh Obaje amongst other prayers as well as a Notice of Appeal.

In support of these paragraph 2 of the counter-affidavit in the submission by Counsel to the Respondent that Hafsat Urane Yusuf is a dead person. This fact were not controverted by the Counsel to the Appellant. It is trite that facts admitted need no further prove. Therefore we hold that the Respondent in this application is a dead person.

In our legal jurisprudence, one of the conditions to be satisfied before a Court can assume a jurisdiction to entertain a matter is that there must be proper parties before the court. In the instant application there are no proper parties before the Court because a dead person is not a legal person.

As the situation to be taken when situation like this arose, we refer to the case of Momodu V. Momh (1991)1 N.W.L.R part 169, page 618 Parah. The Supreme Court has this to say:

“The 1st Appellants interest in the appeal is not in doubt but it is futile and academic for the dispute in the claim to be pursuant and determined in his absence that is when he is more alive, since he was personally to be the beneficiary. See also the case of GREEN V. GREEN V. (1987)3 N.W.L.R (part 6) 480 at pp 492.

We are bound by the Supreme Court decision. Since the Respondent is no longer a live, it become an academic exercise to proceed with this application, as proper parties are not before the Court. This has robbed this Honorable Court the jurisdiction to entertain this application. Consequently, application is struck out.”

The ruling ended.

And a court order for execution (picture below)

The matter is to come up on the 21st August, 2020 at the Mpape Upper Area Court, Abuja.

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