Business

Zinox Chairman: Court orders accelerated hearing in ‘blackmail’ case against Benjamin Joseph

Story Highlights

  • Federal High Court in Abuja restrained the AGF, IGP, and others from actions that could undermine a case involving allegations of false information by Benjamin Joseph against plaintiffs.
  • Plaintiffs seek to prevent AGF from discontinuing the case at FCT High Court, arguing it’s crucial for justice.
  • Court schedules July 23, 2024, for further hearing amidst legal disputes over prosecutorial powers and constitutional rights

The Federal High Court Abuja has restrained the Attorney General Of the Federation, Inspector General Of Police, Managing Director, Citadel Oracle Concept Limited Mr. Benjamin Joseph and other parties from taking any step that will render the case challenging the AGF’s move to discontinue an eight-year alleged false information lawsuit before an FCT High Court, useless.

The court also ordered accelerated hearing on the matter.

The directive was given to parties in a case filed by Chief Onny S. Igbokwe and Princess O. Kama against the AGF, IGF, Mr. Benjamin Joseph,  Economic And Financial Crimes Commission and Citadel.

The plaintiff’s case is that the IGP is  prosecuting Benjamin Joseph for knowingly giving the police misleading (false) information in charge no: FCT/HC/CR/216/16 at the FCT High Court, Abuja, Nigeria, before Justice Peter Kekemeke.

The case at the FCT High Court borders on allegations that the owner of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, an Ibadan-based ICT retail firm allegedly made malicious falsehood over an alleged N170m fraud against the Zinox Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh.

Plaintiff, Defendant’s Case

The legal team of the plaintiff led by Ishaka M. Dikko (SAN) submitted that the FCT High Court charge is predicated on a special investigative report by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force which shows that the said Benjamin Joseph allegedly lied against the Plaintiffs and their business partner.

The plaintiffs had asked the court to restrain the AGF from discontinuing the case at the FCT High Court in the interest of Justice.

The plaintiff told Justice Inyang Ekwo that one of the devices Joseph was allegedly using to frustrate the criminal charge at the FCT High Court  was to keep petitioning the Office of the AGF (to the previous occupiers of that office before the present occupier) tο intervene and take over the prosecution of the case from the Police and discontinue same.

“An order setting aside the directive issued by the AGF to the IGP for the purpose of taking over and discontinuing Charge NO FCT/HC/CR/216/2016 between Inspector General of Police vs. Benjamin Joseph for being unconstitutional, oppressive against the Plaintiffs and a gross abuse of prosecutorial powers.

“ An order of injunction restraining the IGP from presenting the directive issued to it by the AGF for the purpose of taking over and discontinuing charge no: FCT/HC/CR/216/2016 Between Inspector General of Police vs. Benjamin Joseph pending before Hon. Justice U. P. Kekemeke,” the plaintiffs prayed while seeking an interim order restraining the AGF.

On his part, the legal team of Benjamin Joseph, Jude Muoka denied all the submissions of the plaintiff before the court and in respect to the case at the FCT High Court.

The defendant maintained that the letters of instructions from the AGF to the IGP regarding the case against him is in the exercise of his constitutional powers to issue same as provided in section 174 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), having seen that his prosecution  by the IGF “ is not only “malicious but grossly oppressive.”

Joseph’s lawyer urged the court to refuse granting the reliefs sought by the Plaintiffs  as granting it will amount to stripping the AGF of his constitutionally bestowed powers.

What transpired in court

At the sitting of the court on June 14, the plaintiff counsel expressed concern that the Citadel applied to join the case.

Justice Inyang Ekwo told the parties that so long as they are before him in the instant case, they are restrained from taking any steps that will jeopardize the proceedings.

The judge said “The subject matter should not be your concern because when parties have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court, it bars them from taking any step that will render the proceeding and judgement of the Court useless. Thankfully, a Senior Officer of the Federal Ministry of Justice is here.

“I have seen the subject matter of the suit and it should not cause any problem. Parties should restrain themselves and I am trying to see how I can determine this matter as expeditiously as possible.”

The judge subsequently fixed July 23 to hear the matter.

“Order is hereby made accelerating the hearing of this matter.

“Case adjourned to 23rd July, 2024 for hearing,” the judge said while asking the parties to file and serve their respective processes on each other.

While there are reports claiming an FCT High Court has struck out the case against Benjamin Joseph, parties before Justice Ekwo are scheduled to attend proceedings on July 23 in respect of the case against the AGF, IGP and Benjamin Joseph.

Back story

An Abuja High Court had vindicated the long-held position of Zinox Technologies Ltd., and TD Africa, two of Nigeria’s leading technology giants, that its Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh and its staff, Company Secretary, Barr. Chris Eze Ozims and two others, Shade Oyebode and Charles Adigwe respectively, had no wrongdoing in a long-drawn court case involving a N170m Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) contract.

The court had on  February 24, 2021, discharged and acquitted the duo of Princess Kama Onyeoma and Chief Onny Igbokwe, partners to Mr. Benjamin Joseph, who were accused of fraudulently executing the N170m contract awarded to Citadel Oracle Concepts, an Ibadan-based ICT firm owned by Joseph.

In addition, the sum of N20m was awarded as damages against the complainant, Mr. Joseph, for frivolous and malicious petitioning and prosecution.


Source: TheTimes.com.ng.

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