Court Orders Prosecution of Channels TV over Alleged Prejudicial Statements
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 ordered the arraignment of the three presenters of ‘Sunrise Daily’, a morning show that airs on Channels Television everyday, over a presumed prejudicial statements in a case before the court.
The court also asked the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute a lawyer, Ben Chuks Nwosu over the alleged ‘prejudicial statements’
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Olisa Metuh, erstwhile PDP National Publicity Secretary, over N400million which he allegedly collected from former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, purportedly to run advocacy campaign for former President Goodluck Jonathan, ahead of the 2015 general election.
Counsel to the EFCC, Silvanus Tahir at a sitting on May 22, 2018, drew the attention of the court to an episode of the ‘Sunrise Daily’ that was aired earlier that day, alleging that prejudicial statements were made on the program by one of Metuh’s counsels Ben Chuks Nwosu, who was a guest on programme.
Consequently, the court summoned the presenter of the programme, Maupe Ogun-Yusuf and the TV’s General Manager and ordered Channels Television to present an unedited version of the programme (Sunrise Daily) aired on the said day, for viewing to enable the court make decision on the alleged ‘prejudicial statements’.
At the resumed sitting today, Justice Abang, carefully listened to the recorded programme, while taking judicial notice of utterances and contributions of all the participants on the program.
The court, thereafter, ordered the arraignment of Ben Chuks Nwosu, Chamberlain Usoh, Gimba Umar and one other in a competent court of jurisdiction to determine whether or not their utterances are indeed prejudicial and misleading as far as the matter is concerned.
He further ordered the prosecution to refer Nwosu to the disciplinary organ of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, to also determine whether his statements were prejudicial, contemptuous and misleading, while discharging Maope Ogun-Yusuf from the matter saying the prosecution mentioned her name in error.
“The General Manager Channels Television should file the transcript and 10 copies of the CD to the court within 7 days and the prosecution shall within 10 days refer Ben Chuks Nwosu to the NBA disciplinary body to determine whether the statements is extrajudicial or reasonably jeopardise the proceedings”, the judge said.
He further added that, “10 days after prosecution has reported to the NBA, shall forward the transcript and copies of the CD to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and that the AGF shall arraign the 3 persons and Ben Chuks Nwosu in a court of competent jurisdiction”, Justice Abang added.
Earlier, the court had set aside its decision foreclosing the defence.
The decision of the court to foreclose the defence of the 1st defendant in the matter followed an application dated May 25, 2018 by the prosecution over what it called ‘unnecessary delay tactics’ employed by the defence to frustrate the trial, a decision which Tochukwu Onwugbufor, counsel for the 2nd defendant considered as an ‘aberration’.
Ruling on the application, the court set aside its earlier decision to foreclose the defence of the 1st defendant saying, “the decision to grant or refuse the application is at the discretion of the court“.
“The order of the court foreclosing the defence on 25 May, 2018 is hereby set aside”, the Judge ruled.
The court, however, added that “no further adjournment shall be entertained at the instance of the 1st defendant neither shall he plan to fall in the courtroom nor come to the court room in stretcher as it may amount to Infasie Curaie.
The case has been adjourned to July 4, 2018 for continuation of defence.
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