Alleged homicide: Court assumes jurisdiction, restrains further action against Doguwa

Says Chief Magistrates Court lacks jurisdiction to handle criminal cases

Alleged homicide: Court assumes jurisdiction, restrains further action against Doguwa
Rt.Hon. Ado Doguwa

By Oloyede Emmanuel

A Federal high court sitting in Kano on Monday said it has jurisdiction to hear and grant the N500 million bail on exparte application on the embattled Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa.

 The court which was presided over by  Justice Mohammad Yunusa also declared the culpable homicide and other charges, including criminal conspiracy prosecution against Doguwa before the Kano Chief Magistrates Court, unconstitutional.

The Judge while delivering judgement on the motion on notice filed by Doguwa for breach of his fundamental right and unlawful detention by the lower court, ruled that the Chief Magistrates Court lacks jurisdiction to preside over any charge bordering on criminal conspiracy.

Justice Yunusa cited section 251 (1) of the constitution which exclusively grants the Federal Court jurisdiction to hear cases on firearms as contained in the charges filed against Doguwa. He emphasized that granting Doguwa bail was not meant to prevent him from trial but insisted that due process must be followed.

In an affidavit submitted before the court, Doguwa, through his attorney, Nureini Jimoh, SAN, sought the enforcement of the fundamental right of his client as guaranteed by the constitution and other lawful charter.

Jimoh claimed that Doguwa was detained by the police unlawfully and against his right to liberty and freedom as allowed under several provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.

The applicant's counsel, in the affidavit, had insisted that the incarceration of his client by the Chief Magistrate was null and void and unconstitutional because the lower court lacks the competence to try criminal charges.

Dissatisfied with the order of the court setting Doguwa free, the prosecution counsel AB Saleh had queried the jurisdiction of the Federal high court to issue the order, insisting that the action of Justice Yunusa amounted to gross abuse of court process.

The prosecution, in his 26-paragraph counter-affidavit, maintained that the police possess statutory duty to investigate any related case on criminal conspiracy for any period of time adding that such action does not constitute any infringement to fundamental right of the citizen.

In his Judgement, Justice Yunusa declared that citizens reserved the right under the provisions of section 46 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended to approach any high court to challenge attempt or breach of his or her fundamental right.

Justice Yunusa explained that Doguwa ought not to be remanded in the correctional facility in the first place because he was not arraigned and properly charged, adding that police's argument on holding charge before the lower court was not recognized by the constitution of the land.

The court, therefore, granted Doguwa's application by restraining the police from arresting, harassing, detaining or taking further action against him.

Justice Yunusa said the provisions of the law specifically empower the state High Court with jurisdiction over offences on fundamental right. He, however, explained that both State and Federal High Courts share concurrent jurisdiction to hear matters on fundamental right.