Leadership's Publishers Ask Court To Vacate Summons on Jonathan

Leadership's Publishers Ask Court To Vacate Summons on Jonathan

Leadership's Publishers Ask Court To Vacate Summons on Jonathan
Leadership Group Limited, publishers of Leadership Newspaper, has asked an Abuja High Court to set aside summons on President Jonathan to appear and testify in a forgery case brought against its journalists by the Federal Government.

Leadership wants the court to adjourn proceedings in the 11-count criminal charge until the expiration of Jonathan’s tenure to enable him to testify in the case.

The court, presided over by Justice Usman Musale, has fixed Friday July 26, 2013, to decide whether or not it will stay proceedings in the matter to await a time when the President will leave office.

As it is, Jonathan cannot appear before the court to give evidence as ordered by the court summons, owing to the immunity clause in the 1999 Constitution, which exempts him from such.

At the continuation of hearing in the matter on Tuesday, Femi Falana, SAN, counsel for Leadership and its journalists – Group News Editor, Tony Amokeodo and senior correspondent, Chibuzo Ukaibe – noted that the summons issued on Jonathan was wrong.

Falana admitted that the subpoena was applied for in error and was equally issued in error.

He therefore urged the court to set it aside.

“We pray the court to set aside the subpoena while we wait the end of tenure of President Jonathan to enable him to come and testify in this case,” he said.

Asking the court to adjourn indefinitely, pending the end of Jonathan’s stay in Aso Rock, Falana argued that the fundamental rights of the accused persons to fair hearing could not be guaranteed “as, currently, Jonathan cannot appear before the court to give evidence”.

He said, “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.

“By virtue of section 308 of the 1999 CFRN, as amended, this honourable Court lacks the vires to issue and caused to be served, a subpoena ad testificandum on 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.”

However, Federal Government counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, opposed the application and urged the court not to adjourn the proceedings until Jonathan left office.

In an 11-paragraph counter-affidavit, Awomolo argued that it was the Federal Government, and not Jonathan, that complained to the court about the alleged forgery.

Awomolo noted that it was not necessary for Jonathan to appear before the court to give any evidence in the matter.

Justice Musale adjourned to July 25, 2013, to rule on the application.

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