Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Friday, October 26, 2018, adjourned to December 14, 2018, for ruling on alleged forged medical report of a Chinese citizen, Li Yangping.
Yanping is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a one-count charge of concealing a sum of $300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dollars) only to the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service while attempting to board a flight en route Dubai.
The defendant, through his counsel, Patrick I. Ikwueto, SAN, had filed three motions before the court.
Though not yet moved, the first application dated July 31, 2018, sought for an order of the court for the release of Yanping’s international passport, to enable him travel to China, for medical treatment. Attached to this motion, was a medical report from Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Jabi.
The second motion, dated August 16, 2018, sought the withdrawal of the first motion, while the third motion, dated August 20, 2018, also sought for the release of the defendant’s international passport to enable him travel for medical purpose.
When the matter came up today for the defence to open its case, Gbolahan Latona, the prosecution counsel, made an application which predicated on the first motion. He informed the court that the medical report attached to the motion, was forged.
Latona said the application sought the order of the court, for investigations to be carried out to unravel those behind the forgery and also, to protect the integrity of the judiciary and that of the country.
“My application is something that touches on the integrity of this country and the judiciary as well. My humble application is that your lordship should graciously make an order, directing an investigation to be conducted on this document”, the prosecution counsel said.
He continued, “It is important that this order is made by this honourable court, to unravel whether the report is a forged document and who perpetrated the forgery.
“What makes it imperative for the order to be made is that, there is an affidavit of extreme urgency, deposed to by one of the counsels representing the defendant in this matter on the 6th of August, 2018. They even confirmed the fact that the man was attended to, at the Federal Medical Centre. We need to protect the integrity of the judiciary and that of the country”.
Responding to the application, Ikwueto, argued that the prosecution was trying to turn the court into a law enforcement agency, by asking it to make the order. He said that if the EFCC had a complaint, it should go to the agency, authourised to hear complaints for them to carryout their investigations.
“If your lordship can understand his application, it is to turn your lordship into a law enforcement agency. To him, an offence has been committed by the defence in this matter and therefore, the court should exercise its power to order an investigation into the alleged offence”, Ikwueto said.
The learned silk referred the court to Part 8 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, Section 86 to Section 92. “That is the provision given for making a complaint”, he said.
He also referred the court to Section 88 and 89 of ACJA and said that “by these sections, my lordship will see that my learned friend (the prosecution counsel), has the right to make a complaint. But the issue is, can the complaint compel my lord to make an order? The answer is no”.
He further argued that a complaint of this nature, should be channeled to the Police, because, by virtue of “Section 4 of the Police Act, the Police has a statutory duty to investigate a complaint of this nature”.
“I refer the court to the authority of Ifezue against Mbabudha 1984, IACNLR, Supreme Court Nigeria Law Report, Page 187. I aslo refer your lordship to the authority of Cooperative and Commerce Bank PLC against AG Anambara State. Its order of Supreme Court, delivered in 1992, LPELR 875 (SC), page 47”. The defence counsel thereafter, urged the court to refuse the application.
Replying on point of law, the prosecution counsel said the court has the power to make an order that borders on the integrity of the country, by virtue of Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as ammended.
He said, “By virtue of the inherent powers of Section 6 of the Supreme Law of this land, your lordship can make an order that touches the integrity of this land”.
Latona argued that the prosecution was not in court to lay a complaint but to make an application based on the investigations carried out on a document before the court.
He referred the court to Prince Okong Ekpo vs Calabar Local Government Counsel, 1993 3NWLR, part 281, page 324.
After listening to the submissions of both counsels, the court adjourned to December 14, 2018, for ruling on the application made by the prosecution and for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the defence opened its case, with Alhaji Magaji Ali Inuwa as their first witness. The EFCC had called five witnesses, before closing its case around June, 2018.