Judge cautions lawyer against “preemptive remarks” over outcome of forgery case

A Federal High Court Jos
A Federal High Court Jos

Justice Musa Kurya of a Jos Federal High Court on Friday cautioned a Senior Advocate of Nigeria over his insistent remarks that he would appeal the yet-to-be-delivered judgement on the ongoing forgery case against Ibrahim Baba-Hassan, a Plateau lawmaker.

“You keep bragging that you will appeal the ruling. This is strange because the case is ongoing.

“I don’t know why you make this remark while this case is ongoing; I wonder why you will keep predicting the outcome of a case when I have not given my judgment,” a visibly miffed Mr Kurya told the lawyer, Solomon Umoh, who is Mr Baba-Hassan’s counsel.

He warned further: “You must stop preempting my judgement in this matter; this is not the first time you are making this remark. You have been saying it over and over again and I am not comfortable with that, so stop it from today.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mr Umoh made the remark while addressing the prosecution counsel, David Ibeawuchi.

Mr Umoh had advised the counsel against thinking that the case was going to end at the Federal High Court, asserting that “this case will go up to the Supreme Court.’’

NAN reports that Mr Umoh, after being cautioned, quickly tendered an apology to the judge, and promised not to mention that again.

“I apologise, even though I merely wanted to let them know that we still have a long way to go in this matter,’’ he said.

Mr Baba-Hassan, an APC member representing Jos North-North Constituency in the Plateau House of Assembly, is standing trial over alleged forgery of the University of Jos Diploma certificate in Business Administration, which he submitted to INEC for clearance.

The defendant is claiming that he obtained the said certificate in 1996.

The complainant in the case is Abdul Saleh, also an APC member, who contested the state constituency primary elections in 2014, and lost the party’s ticket to Baba-Hassan.

Mr Sale is alleging that Baba-Hassan was not qualified to have contested the primary election for presenting a forged certificate to INEC for clearance

When the case came up for hearing on Friday, Mr Sale, who is the star witness, gave his evidence-in-chief and was ready for cross-examination, but Mr Umoh objected to the witness being allowed to give oral evidence in the matter.

That objection got the parties involved in the case, including APC Defence Counsel, L. D. Dafar, to engage in a series of arguments till the judge ruled in favour of the prosecution.

At that point, Mr Umoh went ahead with the cross-examination of the star witness and specifically asked him to state what he wanted from the case, and what he had against the respondent.

Mr Saleh said that all he wanted was for Baba-Hassan to be disqualified and the ticket of the APC primary for the Jos North-North Constituency given to him since he came second behind him (Baba-Hassan).

After Messrs Umoh and Dafar completed their cross-examination of Mr Saleh, Mr Umoh told the court that he intended to amend his statement of defence to include a Degree Certificate, which the accused had obtained as an additional qualification.

He asked for an adjournment to enable him made the necessary amendment.

The prosecuting counsel and APC defence counsel did not object to the application.

“We are not objecting to the application to amend the defence statement because we have no problem with that; it won’t affect us in any way because our problem is with the forged certificate the accused tendered to INEC in 2014,” Mr Ibeawuchi said.

Justice Kurya then adjourned the case to January 14, 2019, for the accused to open their defence. (NAN)

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