…Hearing Adjourned Till June 10
The presiding judge of a Port-Harcourt High Court on Thursday refused to share jurisdiction with Court of Appeal over bail application by counsel to the federal lawmaker, Hon. Farah Dagogo, and had struck out the application pending before his court.
Honourable Justice C. Nwogu in his ruling on Thursday, June 6 said that his court could not share jurisdiction with the Appeal Court on the application saying to do so would be “judicial rascality”.
The judge said that the court was surrendering jurisdiction to the Appeal Court to handle the issue of bail application for the defendant and struck out the application seeking bail for the federal lawmaker.
There was heated argument over the bail application before the ruling between the principal/prosecuting state counsel, Chidi Ekeh, and defence counsel.
The court heard that a bail application for the defendant was also at Appeal Court filed by another counsel supposedly working for the defendant.
The state counsel argued that the multiplicity of bail applications amounted to an abuse of court process and urged the judge to strike out the application.
The defence counsel however told the court that the supposed counsel working for his client was allegedly working for Rivers State Government.
The defendant was brought to court on Thursday in a wheelchair.
The presiding judge adjourned the case till 7 and 8 June for hearing. However, the court did not sit on Tuesday, June 7 following the absence of the prosecuting counsel who had written to say he would not be in court and asked the court to also vacate June 8 date and was adjourned to June 10.
Meanwhile speaking in an interview on Thursday, one of the defence counsel, Emmanuel Rukari, said that the judge had struck out their bail application and that both teams were coming back to court for hearing of the matter.
Speaking on the bail application before the Court of Appeal, Rukari said: “From information reaching us, somebody who is not part of what we are doing may have gone to file a bail application and the parties therein are different not the same parties as in the one in this particular suit”.
Also speaking on position of the law over the ruling, Rukari said: “Assuming but not conceding to the fact that there are two appeals, the position of the law is that you strike out the later one and not the first one because our application for bail has been pending since the 12th of May, 2022 whereas the other one that was filed by the other lawyer we don’t know was filed on the 27th of May … and we ordinarily ought to have taken our own application and not to be struck out”.
He said that they would challenge the ruling by the judge, admitting: “He’s the judge. He has acted in accordance with the law while we will also want to challenge that law”.
While also speaking with reporters, the principal state counsel, Ekeh said: “He (defendant) had earlier applied for his bail before this court and when on the last time we came the court extended our time within which to reply to their bail application which we have done and served on them but while this motion was pending for his bail which would have been heard today, they went to do forum shopping by going to the Court of Appeal to file for bail application seeking the same relief by the same party and that amounts to an abuse of court process and whenever such issue arises, the court is only allowed to either dismiss the process or strike it out”.
He said that the judge in his wisdom had decided not to hear the bail application because it would have affected the outcome of the application before the Court of Appeal.
He also said that the judge could not share judicial authority with the higher court on same issue.
The federal lawmaker is being prosecuted by Rivers State Government over allegation of conspiracy to commit felony.
When the charges were read to him he had pleaded not guilty.
Hon. Dagogo who represents Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency was arrested as he arrived at Zonal Secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party for screening as governorship aspirant of the party.