This year, 2023, the judiciary will be busy with a lot of cases and events that would shape the development of law and jurisprudence in Nigeria and its democracy.
Election disputes moving to tribunals
The 2023 general elections are expected to witness some results that would push some contestants to the courts either in the councillorship, state assembly, governorship, national assembly and presidential elections.
Following the inauguration of the 307-member elections petitions tribunals on November 7, 2022 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayoode Ariwoola, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, began a training workshop to equip them for the task ahead.
Already, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that over 600 cases have been filed against the commission over the primaries of political parties ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Most of the cases will end at the Supreme Court, especially governorship and presidential election disputes, and all cases arising from pre-election disputes.
However, the Court of Appeal has original jurisdiction under Section 285(1) (a) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, to determine disputes arising from National Assembly elections.
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Boko Haram terrorists’ trial
The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to prosecute fresh Boko Haram suspects being held at the military facility in Kainji, Niger State.
The Solicitor-General and the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Beatrice Jedy-Agba, stated this recently, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari has since provided funds for the commencement of the exercise within the first quarter of the year.
The federal government had similarly in February 2018 conducted a similar exercise where about 1,669 suspects, detained in the facility, were tried.
FG’s appeal against Kanu’s release
Following an order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja for release of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, over his illegal rendition from Kenya, the federal government filed a stay of execution before the appellate court and an appeal at the Supreme Court.
The federal government through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is contending that Kanu was only acquitted but not discharged of the allegations of terrorism and treasonable felony brought against him.
The prosecution further contends that Kanu had earlier demonstrated to be a flight risk when he jumped bail granted in 2017, adding that it would be in the interest of the South East and Nigeria to hold him pending the decision of the apex court.
Igboho’s appeal and release from Benin custody
It is still unclear what follows after the Court of Appeal’s refusal of the N20 billion damages awarded by the Oyo State High Court to the leader of the Yoruba nation movement, Sunday Adeyemo, alias Sunday Igboho, against the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Department of State Services (DSS) over the invasion of his house in 2021.
Similarly, Igboho’s return to the country following his release from the custody of the Government of the Republic of Benin, where he was arrested for breach of immigration law, is still uncertain as to what process could apply this year after the federal government initially sought his repatriation to the country.
Trial of Barrister Raheem’s killer cop resumes
The trial of ASP Drambi Vandi over the murder of Barrister Mrs Bolanle Raheem will commence in earnest this year after he was remanded in the correctional centre by a chief magistrates’ court in Yaba, Lagos State.
The Police Service Commission has since approved Vandi’s suspension over the killing of Mrs Raheem on Christmas Day, December 25, 2022, while returning from church with her family at Ajah Road, Lekki Expressway, Lagos.
Chidimma’s murder trial
The trial of Chidimma Ojukwu, a former student of Lagos State University accused of murdering television CEO, Usifo Ataga, is expected to proceed this year at a Lagos high court. She is being charged alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
Fayose’s money laundering trial
The trial of the former governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose, before the Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged money laundering charges valued at N6.9 billion by the EFCC is expected to commence in earnest on January 31 and February 1.
Kayode’s trial commences
The trial of former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, Danjuma Yusuf and a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, before a federal high court in Lagos, on a 17-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N4.9billion, is set to be accelerated in the year.
DCP Kyari’s drug case, remand
Former Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari’s trial alongside four police officers: Kyari, ACP Sunday Ubua, ASP Bawa James, Inspectors Simon Agirigba, John Nuhu and ASP John Umoru, said to be at large over alleged drug dealing before a federal high court in Abuja is expected to continue this year.
While the two civilians: Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus, who were indicted alongside the officers have since pleaded guilty and have been jailed for two years each, the police officers’ cases have dragged on. Kyari has since applied to be removed from the correctional centre in Kuje for security reasons and to be discharged from the allegations.
Chinese national’s murder trial to continue
The trial of Geng Quanrong, a Chinese national, indicted over the murder of his girlfriend in Kano, Ummukulsum Sani Buhari, in September 2022 over her alleged refusal to marry him, is expected to progress in the year with hearing set to begin January 11.
A magistrates’ court in Kano had remanded Geng at the correctional centre over the incident.
By John C. Azu & Adelanwa Bamgboye, Lagos