Court rejects oral challenge to Jurisdiction in Fubara loyalists' case

Court rejects oral challenge to Jurisdiction in Fubara loyalists’ case

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By Akinsuroju Olubunmi

Court rejects oral challenge to Jurisdiction in Fubara loyalists’ case.

Court rejects oral challenge to Jurisdiction in Fubara loyalists' case

In a recent development at the Federal High Court in Abuja, an oral application contesting the court’s jurisdiction in the case involving five loyalists of River State Governor, Siminalaye Fubara, was turned down. The defendants, namely Chime Ezebalike, Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod, were arraigned by the police on January 25 on charges including terrorism-related offenses, murder of police officers, and the vandalization and burning down of Rivers House of Assembly building.


The incident dates back to October 30, 2023, when an explosion rocked the state House of Assembly building, coinciding with purported efforts by certain lawmakers to impeach Governor Fubara. Despite previous proceedings where Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon rejected the bail application of three defendants, the recent courtroom drama ensued when counsel for the first and second defendants, Lukman Fagbemi (SAN), moved an oral application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.


Fagbemi argued, “My Lord, we are not ready for trial. We are constrained to challenge the territorial jurisdiction of this court to hear the matter and until that is decided, we can’t proceed with the matter.” However, Justice Olajuwon pointed out that such challenges should be presented in written form, emphasizing the court’s status as a court of record.


Fagbemi persisted, stressing the fundamental nature of the jurisdictional issue. He contended that oral challenges were permissible, a stance echoed by the counsel for the third defendant, M.S Ibrahim. Meanwhile, the counsel for the fourth and fifth defendants, Adeolu Salako, expressed his recent briefing on the matter.


On the prosecution’s side, Simon Lough affirmed readiness for trial, mentioning the presence of their witnesses. He asserted, “The matter is for trial and we have our witnesses ready. Jurisdiction can be challenged at any time of the trial.”


Despite the prosecution’s readiness, Justice Olajuwon adjourned the proceedings to March 12, 2024. She clarified that the adjournment was not based on an application not before the court but to accommodate Salako, who had just been briefed, ensuring a fair hearing.


Jurisdiction, Fubara

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