The management of Folio Communications Plc, publishers of Daily Times newspapers have written petitions to the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and the National Judicial Council, NJC, over the appearance of Festus Keyamo, SAN, for the Nigeria Police in a fresh case the Police filed against them.
According to the newspaper, Keyamo being a double appointee of the President Muhammdu Buhari government, could easily intimidate the judge, therefore praying the two judicial bodies to impress it upon Keyamo to excuse himself from the case or better still, direct him to do so.
In a press statement signed by the Managing Editor of Daily Times newspaper, Bonaventure Melah who doubles as the Media Adviser to Folio Communications Plc, and made available to DAILY POST, the company alleged that Keyamo’s appearance for the police could send subtle signal that the president is interested in the case.
The petitions were signed by Barrister Israel Dinne on behalf of Folio Communications Plc.
The petition reads, “Folio and its management decided to petition NBA and JNC because President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier appointed Keyamo SAN as the spokesperson of his presidential campaign organisation and later this year equally appointed Keyamo as a member of the Board of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission (NDIC) which makes him purely partisan.
“We believe that Keyamo’s appearance in court for the Police is a subtle way of telling the Judge handling our case that President Muhammadu Buhari is interested in the matter which amounts to intimidation. We therefore fear that such action has the potency to build or create an atmosphere of fear around the court room which we believe is likely to affect the dispensation of justice without fear or favour,” the statement said.
“It is on the background of the above that the management of Folio wrote to NBA and NJC praying that Keyamo SAN, should be advised to excuse himself from the case in order to free the court room from any encumbrances that can engender fear or intimidation, using the respected person and or exalted office of the President and Commander in Chief as an instrument,” it concluded.
It would be recalled that the Police had instituted several cases against Folio Communications Plc and its management this year alone. Following their petitions to the President, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and many others in which they alleged Police impunity and abuse of judicial process, the Police withdrew all the cases but went ahead to institute another one.
In their earlier petitions, Folio had complained that Senator Ikechukwu Obiora employed the services of DIG Hyacinth Dagala to invade Daily Times Abuja and Lagos offices, carted away many equipment and property and equally narrated how its Chairman, Fidelis Anosike and other management officers were arrested and detained, refused bail alongside their staff.
“It would interest the public to know that there is a subsisting ruling by the Court of Appeal delivered in 2010 in Lagos which among others things stated clearly that the case involving Folio Communications and Sen. Ikechukwu Obiorah on Daily Times is purely civil and therefore no grounds for criminal charges or trial. If Ikechukwu Obiorah is confident of his claims, why has he refused to challenge that Court of Appeal ruling in the Supreme Court? Why is he running from Court of Appeal down to Magistrate Courts?” they had questioned in the February petitions.
They also accused the IGP of forum shopping, adding that he has all the documents that combine to make his actions illegal but chose to ignore them. “The Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris has the Court of Appeal ruling as part of the annexure to the documents submitted during investigations. The Police have documents containing investigations earlier carried out by the Police under Inspector General of Police Onovo in which the Police stated clearly that the case is civil and therefore no need to file criminal charges.
“This same Inspector General of Police is also in possession of documents in which the then Hon. Attorney General of the Federation as well as the Attorney General of Lagos State had both stated clearly that there was no cause for criminal prosecution on this matter. The Police high command is also in possession of the various ruling by courts of different jurisdictions since this matter started over ten years ago to the effect that Daily Times is a legitimate property of Folio Communications including the most recent ruling of Monday 22nd May, 2018 in which His Worship R. J Egbe of Magistrate Court 13 Wuse Zone 2 Abuja said he was aware that there was an ownership dispute existing between Folio Communications Plc and Sen. Ikechukwu Obiora on Daily Times of Nigeria as well as Consent Judgement entered between the two parties following resolution of the matter by stakeholders in 2006 which from records has not been vacated by any court of competent jurisdiction and therefore cannot grant the plaintiff’s prayers to stop the publication of Daily Times. This ruling was on a case instituted by Obiorah himself,” Folio had written then.
“Since 2005, Ikechukwu Obiorah, a lawyer, has been abusing judicial process using the Police and a few black legs in the judiciary. They have committed several acts of illegality and impunity by running from Magistrate courts to High Courts and back to Magistrate courts in desperate but futile attempts to hijack and take what is not theirs,” they had told the president in the February letter.