The presidency accused the leadership newspaper of forging President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature.
The two journalists of Leadership Newspaper, Tony Amokeode and Chibuzor Ukaibe, charged with forging President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature, were on Tuesday arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Messrs Amokeode and Ukaibe pleaded not guilty to the charge.
One of the Group Executive Directors in the newspaper house, Mike Okpere, stood in for the newspaper which is listed as a defendant.
The prosecution had alleged that the accused made a false document bearing fake sign manual purported to be President Goodluck Jonathan’s signature.
The arraignment was stalled twice, on April 16 and April 23, over non filing of some vital processes by the prosecution.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who presided over the case, granted the accused persons bail.
“I have listened carefully to the bail application filed by the defendant’s counsel, Femi Falana.
“And since it was not objected by the prosecution, it is therefore the decision of the court to grant it.
“The accused persons are granted bail in the sum of N500,000 each and a surety each in like sum.
“The sureties are mandated to have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.
“It is the order of the court that the accused persons could only be admitted to bail upon the fulfillment of these terms,” the judge said.
On the argument surrounding the objection raised on the none supply of statement of witness by the prosecution, the judge overruled it, adding that a recent Supreme Court decision had laid the objection to rest.
“I had thought myself that the filing of list of witnesses, statement of witnesses, and proof of evidence could have helped the court to dispose the matter quickly.
“The Federal High Court under the leadership of the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has advised us to use the approach in our case management.
“I have been informed that a recent decision at the apex court foreclosed a situation where prosecution is compelled to avail an accused person with the statement of witness at the pre-trial stage.
The prosecution counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, countered the objection in his address, saying that the prosecution reserved the rights on the statement of witness until hearing begins.
However, Mr. Falana, counsel to the accused persons, argued that the prosecution ought to have given the accused persons all documents at the pre-trial.
Similarly, Mr. Falana’s attempt at challenging the jurisdiction of the court and competence of the charge orally met a brick wall.
The judge had directed that those issues must be compressed into a formal application before the court.
The judge adjourned the case to May 16.
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