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I just finished reading the judgment of the Abuja High Court in the trial & conviction of IG Wala for criminal defamation & incitement. The word "perverse" is reserved for these kinds of judgments & proceedings. This is not about Mr. Wala & what anyone may or may not think of him
It's impossible to describe in words how terribly awful the judgment of the Abuja High Court in the case & conviction of #IGWala is. So, let me try & illustrate in a few lines the problems with the judgment & why no one, not evn those who dislike him as a vocation shd crow abt it
There were 4 counts against #IGWala, for criminal intimidation; managing unlawful society; public incitement; & criminal defamation. The prosecution laid no evidence to prove the count of criminal intimation, so the judge threw it out. That left 3 counts.
1st, the judgment shows the Defence did not file a written address. The Prosecution filed & served its address on a Friday; to be adopted on the Monday after that. The judge refused the application by the defence for 48 working hrs to respond to the filing by the prosecution
Let's take the count in unlawful assembly. The judge sets out the 2 elements of the crime, the most important 1 being that the society "has been declared to be a society dangerous to good govt..." As proof of this, he claims #IGWala confessed his CATBAN was "unregistered"
The prosecution did not tender any evidence that #IGWala's Citizen Action to Take Back #Nigeria (CATBAN) was proscribed or unlawful. The only evidence was that CAC has no record of its registration. On this the court convicted for "unlawful assembly"!
For the crime of incitement, the court did not even bother to set out the elements of the crime or the evidence in support. So, this is all that it had to say to warrant conviction of #IGWala on this score. Both the law & the evidence were inconvenient
On criminal defamation,1st the Court didn't bother with setting out the elements of the crime. The Prosecution did not produce any evidence from anyone saying the complainant had been diminished in their estimation by the misdeeds of #IGWala
Rather laughably, the court relied on Winfield & Jolowicz, a classic text on the law of torts (the judgment spells it as "Tost") to state the law on criminal defamation. Problem is this was criminal prosecution not civil claim but the Court had no problems convicting #IGWala
On sentencing, the Penal Code says that on these kinds of crimes, anyway, a 1st offender gets a lower tarrif than maximum sentence. Not for this judge. His reason? #IGWala is a "recidivist" (i.e. repeat offender). Problem is the judge accepted evidence that he's a 1st offender!
All this, of course, was cloaked in the garb of a judicial avatar avenging on behalf of society the presumed ills of the digital age. That would all have been good, if the trial judge had bothered to anchor them on the law. He was just not going to allow the law to get in his way
This judicial misadventure of the trial & conviction of #IGWala cld easily have been avoided if the court had taken its time to consider & deliberate on the objection to the proceedings brought by the defence. All these issues were raised. But the court tossed them summarily
The judgment in this case of the trial & conviction of #IGWala is a model of judicial voodoo (& that is putting it mildly). Legal professionals from other countries who read it will wonder how #Nigeria's judicial got to this!
I now understand the lawyers for #IGWala have filed an appeal & are processing records of the trial. While that unfolds, Mr. Wala is held as a convict in the prison in Suleja. No one knows how long his appeal will take to enroll or come to hearing. It's not an election petition!
Oh, by the way, to anchor his decision making on sentencing, the judge in the #IGWala case sought & found solace in the mantras of a serving President & a ruling political party. No, I have not made this up, take a look👇🏽
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