22 January 2013

Nigeria: Alleged Forgery - Court Okays Apga Factional Chairman, Masalla for Trial

Abuja — Justice Peter Kekemeke of an Abuja High Court, yesterday, ruled that the factional national chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Sadeeq Masalla, has a case to answer over his alleged involvement in forgery of signatures belonging to some members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party

Consequently, the trial court declined to quash the eleven-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Nigerian Police Force, saying it was convinced that a prima-facie case was successfully established against him.

In his ruling, Justice Kekemeke said: "This court has jurisdiction to try the case and there is nexus between the accused and the offenses 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."

Therefore, the court ordered the embattled factional leader of the party to ensure that he was present for arraignment on March 18 when the case was subsequently adjourned.

The court had on November 14, 2012, after hearing an application moved by police prosecutor, Francis Irabor, okayed Masalla for trial.

Police further tendered a copy of the proof of evidence it intended to prove Masalla's complicity in the alleged crime, as well as, a copy of list of witnesses, list of exhibits, and statement of the accused person himself.

However, Masalla filed a motion wherein he not only challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try him, but further queried the legal propriety of the leave granted the Police.

He had pleaded the court to quash the charge for want of nexus linking him to the alleged offence, contending that the proof of evidence did not establish a prima-facie case to warrant his prosecution.

It will be recalled that the leadership of APGA under Chief Victor Umeh, had on June 21, suspended Masalla who was then the Deputy National Chairman of the party, (North), alongside the National Vice Chairman South East, Morgan Anyalechi, over their alleged involvement in anti-party activities.

Equally axed by the Umeh-led executives were the Deputy National Organising Secretary, Sunday Obasohan, Deputy National Legal Adviser, Bala Bako, National Youth Leader, Ferguson Opara and National Women Leader of the party, Mrs Ella Nwabueze Ezeanya.

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