A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, sitting at Bwari, on Tuesday, dismissed forgery and impersonation allegations that were levelled against the National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku, by the Nigerian Police Force, NPF.
The police had on November 22, 2022, arraigned Njoku and the National Youth leader of the party, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwoga, for allegedly forging a judgement of the Supreme Court in an appeal marked: SC/CV/686/2021 and presenting same as genuine with the intent to mislead the public.
It alleged that the defendants committed offences that were punishable under sections 179 and 366 of the penal code law.
However, in his judgement on Tuesday, trial Justice Mohammed Madugu held that the prosecution failed to adduce any credible evidence to prove the 14-count charge it preferred against the defendants.
According to the court, police was unable to discharge the burden of proof that was placed on it by the law.
It held that the prosecution did not establish how Njoku, being the National Chairman of APGA, committed the alleged impersonation.
Justice Madugu went ahead and struck out the charge for lack of documentary and oral evidence to sustain it.
The court held that due to “lack of sufficient and credible evidence, the prosecution has failed woefully to prove its case against the defendants.”
The trial judge held that by the provision of section 138 of the Evidence Act, the onus was on police to establish the criminal allegation it levelled against the defendants, beyond reasonable doubt.
“It is crystal clear that internal disputes in APGA had played a significant role in causing complexity of this case,” the judge noted.
He held that though there were elements of conspiracy in the charge, the prosecution also failed to produce any evidence to link the defendants with the offence.
“In accordance with section 178 of the penal code, the prosecution did not establish any dishonest intent from the letter Chief Njoku wrote to Justice Mary Peter Odilli, retired,” the court held.
“I find the 1st defendant, Chief Edozie Njoku and the 2nd defendant, Chukwuma Nwoga not guilty as charged, and therefore they have been discharged and acquitted,” Justice Madugu added.
The defendants had through their team of lawyers led by Mr Panam Ntui, urged the court to discharge and acquit them, insisting that they had no case to answer in the matter.
It will be recalled that the police had earlier withdrawn the charge it filed against a staff of the Supreme Court, Mrs Ogunseye Adebisi, whom it accused of complicity in the alleged forgery.
It alleged that Adebisi, who served as Secretary to Justice Odili was involved in the forgery of the judgement.
Specifically, police told the court that the defendant had on or about May 6, 2022, “dishonestly and intentionally” masterminded the insertion of the name of the National Chairman of the APGA, Njoku, as the 2nd Respondent in a legal action that was instituted against the party by one of its aggrieved members, Mr. Jude Okeke.
Meanwhile, reacting to the judgement on Tuesday, Chief Njoku told newsmen that he has been vindicated, even as he thanked the Chief Judge of High Court, Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf, for ensuring that the matter was not withdrawn from Justice Madugu, despite moves in that direction.
He expressed joy that the court recognized him as the National Chairman of APGA, inline with previous decision of the Supreme Court.
“There is nothing as great as truth. The court has cleared me of forgery, conspiracy and impersonation allegations and even went on to declare that I am the National Chairman of APGA and that I have power to write letters in that capacity.
“The INEC had refused to recognize me as the National Chairman of APGA because I am facing a criminal charge, today, I have been absolved of any wrongdoing.
“So, what else will INEC say that will make them not to accord me full recognition.
“What will they say is the next problem? Maybe there is a plot to pin APGA down, but we must ensure that the party remains afloat,” Njoku added.