22 January 2013

Nigeria: Masalla Must Stand Trial for Forgery, Says Judge

An Abuja High Court yesterday held that Sadeeq Masalla, the self-acclaimed National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), has a case to answer for allegedly forging the signatures of some members of the party's National Working Committee (NWC).

Justice Peter Kekemeke while ruling on an application brought by Masalla to quash the charges against him, held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.

The court also said there was a nexus between the accused person and the offences for which he was charged.

Justice Kekemeke said: "The court has jurisdiction to try the case and there is nexus between the accused and the offences for which he is being charged.

"The claim that there is no nexus is false and holds no water as the prosecution met all the conditions for the grant of the leave to prefer charges against the accused applicant.

"There the application to quash charges fails as once there is substantial compliance to the rules for granting the application to prefer the charge the application would be granted. The leave was granted in accordance with the law. There is a prima facie case against the accused and he is properly charged before the honourable court."

The trial judge then fixed March 18 for the arraignment of Masalla and directed his counsel, Tochukwu Onwubufor (SAN) to make sure that he (Masalla) present himself for arraignment.

Masalla was charged with an 11-count charge including forging the signatures of some members of the party's NWC.

His lawyer, Onwubufor, had applied to the court for an order quashing the charges.

But the prosecution counsel, Frances Irabor, opposed the application.

Onwubufor had asked the court to quash the charges on the ground that the materials placed before it which warranted the leave granted the prosecution to arraign the accused person (Masalla) were not sufficient for the court to grant the said leave.

In the objection, Onwubufor said he was challenging the judge's consent which brought the charge into effect, adding that until the validity of the consent was determined, his client could not be arraigned.

The prosecutor however disagreed with him. He said that the accused person ought to have been in court before his objection could be entertained by the court.

The court had ordered the police to arrest and produce Masalla before it on November 21 for arraignment over the said forgery of the signatures of some members of the NWC of APGA.

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