From Ali Abare Abubakar, Lafia
A member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA), Francis Orogu (PDP, Keana), was yesterday remanded in prison custody on the orders of a Lafia Upper Area Court I judge, Justice Abdullahi Shams Shama, for assaulting he state Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Abraham Alhamdu Aloko.
The lawmaker, who was charged before the court on a three count charge of assault, disruption of a public officer performing his duty and criminal intent, was denied bail by the presiding judge who ordered that the lawmaker to be remanded in prison custody, after adjourning the case to April 2, 2014.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Lagi Innocent, who is also the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Abraham Alhamdu Aloko, told journalists at the court premises that Orogu, alongside the staff officer of the state Assembly, Suleiman Gyabo, were arraigned together before the Upper Area Court and have been ordered to be remanded in prison custody at the Lafia prison.
“Since last week Thursday, we have been looking for them. Immediately we filed our charges we have been looking for them to get them arrested and arraigned before the court”, Aloko declared.
He explained however that after reading the charges to the accused persons, they denied the allegations leveled against them, pleading not guilty, following which the judge reserved his ruling for April 2.
Commenting on the matter, counsel to the accused persons, Ocha Ulegede, a Makurdi based legal practitioner, faulted the Attorney General for appointing himself as a pointer, as well as attempting to serve a court order on the state Assembly.
He disclosed that after the charges were read to his clients and their pleas taken, the counsel to the AG requested for a date for the hearing for which he had no objection but only for the presiding judge to refuse to grant his clients bail.
“Under Section 340 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), even if these people don’t have a lawyer representing them, the judge was bound to grant them bail, because none of the offences carries imprisonment of up to three years”, Ulegede noted.
He averred that under the same Section 340 (1), the presiding judge has no discretion but to grant his clients bail but was surprised the judge merely ruled that hearing has been adjourned for April 2, with the order for his clients to be remanded in prison custody.
Ulegede alleged that the refusal of the judge to grant Orogu bail ran contrary to the oath of office he swore to as a judge, adding that he saw the AG was up to something, stressing that he won’t allow the decision of the court to lay low.
He threatened to take the matter before the National Judicial Council (NJC), for the body to look into the conduct of the judge, accusing him of allowing the state Attorney General to perpetrate “this nonsense”.
Meanwhile, this reporter gathered that the state Chief Judge, Suleiman Umaru Dikko, has intervened in the matter, ordering the Upper Area Court Judge to grant bail to the two accused persons.