Court Summons Jonathan over Leadership Journalists’ Trial

Court Summons Jonathan over Leadership Journalists’ Trial

The presiding judge, Justice Usman Musale issued the summons; subpoena ad testificandum, dated July 15, 2013 to the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requesting him to come to court with documents to give evidence in the matter.

The President is to be served with the subpoena through the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The subpoena requested the president to appear before the court from day to day until the cause is tried, to give evidence on behalf of the accused persons and also to bring with him and produce at the time and aforesaid the purportedly forged document titled ‘presidential directive’ having on it the seal of the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria published on the front page of Leadership newspaper of 3rdday of April, 2013.

The federal government, had on June 27, 2013 re-arraigned the two LEADERSHIP journalists namely, group news editor, Mr. Tony Amokeodo and senior correspondent, Mr. Chibuzo Ukaibe, on an alleged 11-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and forgery.

The journalists were however, granted bail by the trial judge, having pleaded not guilty and the court consequently adjourned the case to July 16, 2013 for hearing.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the prosecutor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, told the court that he was ready to go on with the trial but Falana informed the court that a subpoena personally signed by the trial judge was served on the presidency via the ministry of justice.

Falana told the court that he had filed an application asking for an order of the court to suspend further proceedings in the matter indefinitely to await the end of the term of President Jonathan to enable him to testify as a witness for the accused persons.

He anchored his submission on the grounds that the fundamental right of the accused persons to fair hearing could not be observed by the trial court as their application for the issuance and service of subpoena ad testificandum on President Jonathan had been granted by the court.

According to him, by virtue of section 308 of Nigeria’s constitution, the court lacks the power to issue and cause to be served, a subpoena ad testificandum on the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of to testify as a witness for the accused persons in this case.

“The accused persons are inhibited from obtaining the attendance of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to testify as a witness for the accused persons in this case.”

The prosecutor, Chief Awomolo, however opposed the application, which he said was not ripe for hearing. He observed that the defence should wait for the prosecution to try its case and then raise the issue of their star witness when it gets to the turn of the defence.

He asked the court to allow him to call his witnesses for the commencement of the trial while Falana could later bring the issue of calling the president as a witness after he might have concluded the case.

The judge informed the parties that he needed time to deliver his ruling and consequently adjourned the matter till Wednesday to rule on whether or not Falana’s motion was ripe for hearing.

“I feel that this is not a matter that I can rush into ruling; for this reason this matter is adjourned to July 17 for ruling; ruling shall be made by 11 a.m. and the bail of the accused is extended,” Justice Musale said.

The judge had earlier stood down the matter for close to one hour to consider the motion before the adjournment. 

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