Malami’s conflicting letters stall trial of Imo ex-gov’s alleged accuser

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Abubakar Malami

Conflicting letters from the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, have stalled the trial of Abuja-based businesswoman, Mrs. Chinyere Igwegbe, who had sued former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim.

The charges brought against the woman by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) were shifted to December 8 by a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Although the trial was billed to commence yesterday and Ohakim expected to give evidence against the woman, Justice Yusuf Halilu pushed it forward due to two conflicting letters from the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMoJ).

In one of the letters, the AGF was said to have indicated interest to take over the prosecution of the accused. Another, however, said that the AGF did not express such desire.

In the confusion that ensued, Halilu, who claimed to have received the conflicting letters, chose to postpone the trial till December 8 for the IGP and AGF to put their houses in order.

At a resumed sitting yesterday, Mrs. Rachael Dimka, the police counsel, informed the court that the matter was for the police to open their case against the defendant, and the former governor was in court to lead the evidence.

She admitted receiving a letter “purportedly written by the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation to take over the case.”

The counsel further told the court that there was another letter from the office of the AGF refuting the claim that the AGF had taken over the case.

“My Lord, we urge the court to discountenance the said letters,” the lawyer pleaded. At that juncture, the judge demanded explanation from the office of the AGF, but it was not represented in court.

Justice Yusuf confirmed receiving documents, which he described as “two heavy letters, one from the AGF saying he has taken over the case, and the order refuting the claim.”

Consequently, Dimka insisted before the court that the authors of the letters should be investigated. Reacting, counsel to the accused, Mr. Ifeanyi Nweze, told the court that similar scenario played out at the Federal High Court in Abuja, and that at the end of the day, the court held that the AGF had unfettered power to take over any case before judgment is given.

The accused, in a petition to the IGP, had accused Ohakim of conspiracy, criminal intimidation, defamation of character, attempted kidnap and threat to her life. However, after investigation, the police claimed the allegations were unsubstantiated and false.

Although the police had arrested the former governor and filed criminal charges against him, Igwegbe was later arrested when it was discovered that the allegations in her petition were mere blackmail. She was arraigned on July 22, 2021 and later granted bail.

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