Court declines jurisdiction and returns case to Chief Justice for reassignment
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday declined jurisdiction in a terrorism charge brought against Emeoyiri Uzoma Benjamin and Okolie Gloria by the Federal Government.
The trial judge, Judge Taiwo Taiwo, while ruling on a preliminary objection by the defendants, in which they challenged the territorial jurisdiction of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to hear the case, held that the accused should have been charged in a court located where the alleged offenses were committed.
Judge Taiwo held that although the Federal High Court is unique and has unlimited jurisdiction to deal with criminal cases, consideration is given to where the offenses giving rise to the legal action have been engaged.
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He said the question of jurisdiction is at the discretion of the court, the court must take into account the location of the parties in a case, the nature of the alleged offenses and the place where the offenses were committed to decide on a application challenging its jurisdiction.
According to the judge, the prosecution of an accused should not be conducted where it feels like, at all times, the place of the commission of the alleged offenses must be taken into account in the prosecution.
“I have reviewed the charges against the defendants and none of the alleged offenses took place outside of Imo State. I have nothing before me to show that the defendants will be tried in Abuja due to the insecurity problem.
“The charges before me showed that the alleged offenses took place outside of Abuja and, I am of the opinion that I do not have territorial jurisdiction to try the accused here in Abuja. I will refer the case to the judge in chief by administrative means for transfer to the court with territorial jurisdiction to hear the case,” the judge said.
The defendants, in a preliminary objection dated January 1, 2022, asked the court to decline jurisdiction and dismiss the charge or, in the alternative, transfer the case to the chief judge for reassignment to another judge to deal with. .