By Chief Administrator
An Abuja Area Court on Wednesday admitted a lawmaker, Ahmed Ndakene, charged with alleged certificate forgery, to bail in the sum of N5 million.
Ndakene, who represents Edu/Moro/Patigi Federal Constituency of Kwara, appeared before the court over alleged criminal breach of Section 88(1), 89(3) and 109c of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 brought against him by Mahmud Babako.
Babako, a candidate of the PDP in the election that Ndakene emerged winner on the platform of the APC, alleged that the defendant forged his certificate.
Babako also alleged the said forged document was presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the form he used to contest in the 2019 election.
He alleged that the defendant deposed on oath to facts which were not true and that his occupying the seat of his constituency was based on false information and forged documents.
Babako’s lead counsel, Labio Orji, prayed the court to allow Ndakene to take his plea instead of seeking police investigation into the matter before he would be arraigned.
Alex Edim, the lead counsel to Ndakene, however, opposed the application and predicated his objection on Section 89 (5) of the ACJA, 2015.
In the stated section, according to Edim, the court has the power to refer any matter before it to the police for investigation before any further action can be taken.
He said it was wrong to arraign his client over an investigation by the complainant without following the due process of informing the police.
“All complaints made directly to the court may be referred to the police for investigation before any action can be taken,” Edim said.
He added that Sections 106 and 89 of the act did not give any private individual any right to prosecute or commence criminal proceeding or matter before following the due process or seeking approval and fiat of the concerned attorney general.
He, therefore, urged the court to use its discretion and in the interest of justice allow the police to investigate the matter, and that by so doing, the case would not be prejudiced.
But Orji urged the court to disregard Edim’s argument because the sections of the act used the word “may” and not “shall”, as “may” in the context meant a discretionary word and not mandatory.
Orji said by allowing the defendant to take his plea, the interest of justice would not be prejudiced as the stated sections of the act said a legal practitioner authorised by the attorney general and any act of the National Assembly can conduct criminal proceedings.
The Judge, Inuwa Maiwada, after listening to the submissions of both counsel, pointed out that the sections quoted did not specify that only the police could investigate a matter, but any government security agency.