Lawmaker charged with certificate forgery, granted bail at N5m
An Abuja Area Court on Wednesday admitted a lawmaker, Ahmed Ndakene, charged with alleged certificate forgery to bail in the sum of N5 million.
Ndakene, who represents Edu/Moro/Patigi Federal Constituency of Kwara, appeared before the Court over alleged criminal breach of Section 88(1), 89(3) and 109c of the Administrative Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 brought against him by Mahmud Babako.
Babako, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election that Ndakene emerged as winner, under the APC alleged that the defendant forged his certificate.
Babako also alleged that the said forged document was presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the form he used to contest for the 2019 election.
He alleged that the defendant deposed on oath to facts which were not true and his occupying the seat of his constituency was based on false information and forged documents.
Babako lead counsel, Labio Orji prayed the court to allow Ndakene to take his plea instead of seeking for police investigation into the matter before he would be arraigned.
Alex Edim, the lead counsel to Ndakene, however, opposed the application and predicated his objection on Section 89 (5) of the ACJA, 2015.
In the stated section, according to Edim, the court has the powers to refer any matter before it to the police for investigation before any further action can be taken.
He said that it was wrong to arraign his client over an investigation by the complainant without following the due process of informing the police.
“All complaints made directly to the court may be referred to the police for investigation before any action can be taken,” Edim said
He added that sections 106 and 89 of the Act did not give any private individual any right to prosecute or commence criminal proceedings or matter before following the due process or seeking for approval and fiat of the Attorney-General
He, therefore, urged the court to use its discretion and for the interest of justice to allow the police to investigate the matter and by so doing the case would not be prejudiced.
But Orji urged the court to disregard Edim’s argument because the Sections of the Act use the word ” may” and not ” shall” as “may” in the context meant a discretionary word and not mandatory.
Orji said that by allowing the defendant to take his plea, the interest of justice would not be prejudiced as the stated Sections of the Act said a Legal practitioner authorised by the Attorney General and any Act of the National Assembly can conduct criminal proceedings.
The Judge, Inuwa Maiwada, after listening to the submissions of both counsel, pointed out that the Sections quoted did not specify that only the police could investigate a matter but any government security agency.
Maiwada also said the law stipulated that where an issue cropped up before an arraignment, the defendant woul remain in the custody of the court.
The judge said due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to decongest the correctional facility he would grant the defendant bail.
He, therefore, admitted the defendant bail in the sum of N5 million and one reasonable surety in like sum with a financial standing for the bond to be entered.
Maiwada equally ordered that the surety must reside within the court jurisdiction, which must be verified by the court officials.
He adjourned the matter until June 11 for ruling on submission of the points raised by both counsel.