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Keren-Happuch: Premier Academy slams N500m suit against coalition leader over

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***Their suit is frivolous and smacks of desperation, says Coalition Leader

For allegedly defaming its character while speaking about Keren-Happuch Akphagher, its boarding student who died following health complications caused by rape at the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Law Week, Premiere Academy, Lugbe, has filed a suit against leader of the Coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders (CGBVR), Lemmy Ughegbe for defamation.

Vexed by Ughegbe’s rousing speech at the said Law Week on 30th of August 2022, whereof he named it (school) as prime suspect and invited lawyers to join the coalition in pressuring the police to fish out the culprit, the embattled school has asked an Abuja High Court to award N500 Million as damages against him.

In the said suit filed by Premiere Academy’s legal team headed by Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), which includes his wife, Chief (Mrs) Victoria Awomolo (SAN) and Eyitayo Fatogun (SAN), the school is also asking the court to bar the Child and Gender Rights Advocate (Ughegbe) from making further public statements with regards to the alleged rape and death of Keren-Happuch till further notice.

Premiere Academy argued that “if the court fails to bar Ughegbe, it (Premiere Academy, Lugbe) will suffer irreparable damage to its character.”

Following medical reports that the 14 year old girl was raped in Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja and a condom left inside her, which infected her with sepsis, spiked her blood sugar leading to her death due to hyperglycemia on the 22nd of June 2021, Ughegbe has been in the forefront of seeking justice for the deceased and her family..

Consequently, on the 7th of December 2021, the House of Representatives ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to conduct DNA test for all the male staff of the school and march DNA each with the dead spermatozoa found in Keren’s urine and resolved to set up an Investigative Panel to conduct public hearing into the matter.

But in a-26 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mr. Christopher Akinsowon, who was acting Principal of Premiere Academy before and after Keren died on 22nd of June 2021 and now the school’s Director of Academics and Administration, he complained about the speech delivered by the Coalition Leader at the NBA Abuja Branch (Unity Bar) 2021 Law Week while attending as a guest panelist.

He said the speech delivered by Ughegbe defamed Premiere Academy and that was the reason the school instructed its lawyers to sue him for defamation in other to stop him from further damaging its image.

In paragraph, 17, Akinsowon averred thus: “That the respondent (Ughegbe) was seen and heard saying thus:
“I seek leave of Mr. Chairman to adopt the protocol as haven been established and deem same as having been observed by yours truly. As it’s traditional for me since June 22nd, 2021, I cease every opportunity of a public forum to do one thing, one pledge that I made to the coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders which I lead.

“On June 22nd, 2021, the inalienable right of 14 year old Keren-Happuch Akpagher was taken away because she was raped, condom left inside of her, the condom eventually infected her with sepsis, which triggered her diabetic condition in such a bad way and we eventually lost her. And I have said that at every forum I get, I would spend, at least, two minutes to talk about her. She was a boarding house student at Premiere Academy, Lugbe. We are talking Human Rights, so this is even auspicious. Unfortunately, we have issues with systems not being in place.

“If you followed the news very well all this while, you would find that at some point because the coalition said this is one Child Sexual Abuse that will not just be a mere data and we must get the perpetrator, unfortunately, the FCT Police Command misadvised and misdirected itself on this matter, to the point because we started talking and holding them to account, they decided to accuse me of inciting public disturbance. The primary suspect – Premiere Academy is allowed to speak and do press conferences, but someone licensed as a Gender and Child Rights Advocate is accused of that? .

“We have fought it using the instrumentality of the media and because of that, we have put petitions in place and today we are making progress with that case and I urge lawyers to join in this effort because in the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu – “if you are neutral in the situation of injustice, then you have taken sides with the oppressor.”

When reporters called Ughegbe for his reaction to the suit, he couldn’t contain his amusement as he laughed for over five minutes before responding thus:
“I’m so sorry for laughing so hard and taking your time. They want to use cheap legal action to bully me into silence and breach my constitutional right to hold and express my opinion? Tell them they have made a wrong call and have failed. But this is really laughable. I am yet to receive the court process, but a friend of mine said he received it on my behalf. Their case is built primarily on my speech at the NBA Abuja Branch 2021 Law Week. They are unhappy that I am calling lawyers to join us to demand for justice. What is defamatory about that? It is my considered view that this suit is not just frivolous and lacking in merit, but it is also vexatious. But I will not be vexed because I understand their frustrations and therefore what I have for them is sympathy. Why will a school be unhappy and jittery that I am calling out stakeholders to join us to seek justice? Clear conscience should not be offended or saddened by my call. The school, more than anyone else, should even be eager to join us to invite scrutiny of its operation vis-à-vis Keren-Happuch”, Ughegbe stated.

He also expressed his eagerness for the Investigative Panel of the House of Representatives to begin public hearing on the matter, adding that “we shall open a giant can of worms. We have credible intelligence and the world will shudder at the revelations during the public hearing meant to commence in January 2022. Our team of 7 Senior Advocates have been well briefed and armed with credible evidence to help the Panel come to a far-reaching conclusion.”

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EFCC to arraign Bello on Thursday over alleged N80.2b money laundering

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) has indicated it will on Thursday, April 18, 2024 arraign a former governor of Kogi State,  Yahaya Adoza Bello before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The antigraft agency said Bello will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite alongside three other suspects,  Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19- count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N80, 246,470, 088.88
The arraignment is being perfected following a warrant of arrest and enrolment order granted the EFCC by the court on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. 

Count one of the charges reads: That you, Yahaya Adoza Bello, Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu( Still at large), sometime, in February, 2016, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80, 246,470, 088.88 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity  to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended”.

Count 17 of the charges read: “That you Yahaya Bello between 26th July 2021 to 6th April 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable  Court aided E-Traders International Limited to conceal the aggregate sum of  N3081,804,654.00( Three Billion, Eighty One Million Eight Hundred and Four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) in account number 1451458080 domiciled in Access BankPlc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act.

Count 18  of the charges reads: “That you Yahaya Adoza Bello  sometime in November 2021 in Abuja within the jurisdiction  of this Honourable Court  indirectly procured E-Traders international Limited to transfer  the aggregate sum of $570,330.00( Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand , Three Hundred and Thirty Dollars) to account number 4266644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act”.

“The Commission’s attempt to execute the Warrant of Arrest lawfully obtained against Bello met stiff resistance  on Wednesday,  April 17,  2024.  The security cordon around the former governor’s residence in Abuja was breached by the current Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo who  ensured that the suspect was spirited away in his official vehicle.  
“As a responsible law enforcement agency,  the EFCC exercised restraint in the face of the provocation, waiting for his arraignment on Thursday, April 18,  2024.

“It is needful to state that Bello is not above the law and would be brought to justice as soon as possible.”

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Court bars Ganduje from parading himself as member of APC

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Yhe Kano State High Court has granted an ex parte order restraining the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, from parading himself as a member of the party.

The court ordered that Ganduje must refrain from presiding over all affairs of the National Working Committee of the APC.

The application waa said to have been granted by Justice Usman Na’abba on Tuesday, following an ex parte motion filed by Dr. Ibrahim Sa’ad on behalf of two executive members of Ganduje’s ward, Dawakin-Tofa Local Government Area, the Assistant Secretary, Laminu Sani and Legal Adviser, Haladu Gwanjo (plaintiffs), who were part of the nine ward executives who suspended Ganduje on Monday.

The court directed the four parties (respondents) joined in the matter, including the APC, NWC, APC Kano State Working Committee, and Ganduje, to henceforth, maintain status quo ante belum as of April 15th,2024 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit on April 30th 2024

Justice Na’abba, also held as prayed, stopped State Working Committee APC Kano from interfering with the legally and validly considered decision of executives of Ganduje ward, essentially on action endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the executives as provided by the party constitution.

The ex parte order read,, “An order is hereby granted directing all parties in the suit APC (first), APC National Working Committee (second), Kano State Working Committee APC (third), Dr. Abdullah Umar Ganduje (fourth), to maintain status quo ante belum as of April 15, 2024.
“The order thereby restraining the first respondent (APC) from recognising the fourth respondent (Ganduje) as a member of APC and prohibiting the fourth respondent (Ganduje) from presiding over any affairs of the NWC and restraining the state Working Committee from interfering with the legally and validly decision of the ward executives of Ganduje ward.

“That the fourth respondent (Ganduje}is prohibited from parading himself as a . member of APC or doing any act that may _ portray him or seem to be a member of APC pending the hearing and determination of the
substantive suit.”

Nine members of the Ganduje ward proclaimed the suspension of the National Chairman of the APC over the allegation of corruption slammed on him by the Kano State Government.

The nine APC executives said they were prompted to act following a petition written by one Ja’afaru Adamu, a member of the AP from the National chairman’s polling unit.

in the petition, Adamu complained over allegations of corruption charges against the
former governor just as he urged the ward leaders to investigate the matter to redeem the dented image of the party and the implication on President Bola Tinubu’s fight against corruption.

Although the chairman and secretary of the ward failed to act on the petition filed en April 8, 2024, nine members of the executives, led by the legal adviser, acted upon the petition, a decision that led to Ganduje’s suspension.

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Law

Mambilla Update: Agunloye heads to Appel Court over ruling fundamental rights

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Justice Obiora Egwuatu at the Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a Suit filed by Agunloye in June 2023 to restrain EFCC from harassing him and breaching his fundamental rights because of the ongoing International Arbitration on Mambilla Power Project

The points made by Agunloye in the Civil Suit which had dragged for over nine months had become irrelevant or expired in reality because the EFCC, the Respondent, had, while the case was in progress, declared Agunloye wanted, detained him, maltreated him in detention.
The antigraft agency also arraigned him before another court and remanded him in prison until the court granted him bail.

The court under Justice Egwuatu, however, did not consider the merits of the case largely on the ground that EFCC has the power to carry out its statutory duties and can not be stopped by the Court. On this basis, Justice Egwuatu dismissed the suit and awarded costs.

Agunloye’s lawyers have expressed preparedness in respect of the appeal considering that the court admitted basing its ruling on the suit being “an attempt to use the instrumentality of the Court to shield the Applicant from criminal investigation and to interfere with the statutory authority of the Respondent to investigate crimes or allegations of same in line with the EFCC Act.”

It is believed that the duties of EFCC must be performed in accordance with the law, and the court has the powers to stop any infraction by the EFCC in the course of performance of its duties. Such does not amount to interference with the statutory duties of EFCC but a legal checkmate of its powers to deter likely abuse.

With the Agunloye heading to
appeal against the Judgement, the case is far from being over, and the Court of Appeal will take the opportunity to look at the case extensively.

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