Court summons Jonathan over Leadership journalists’ trial

An Abuja High Court sitting in Kubwa District has summoned President Goodluck Jonathan to appear before it to give evidence in the case of alleged forgery of presidential  bromide published in Leadership newspaper of April 3, 2013.
The court, presided over by Justice Usman Musale, had issued a summons (subpoena ad testificandum) dated July 15, to Jonathan through the Federal Ministry of Justice headquarters in Abuja.

The subpoena followed the request of counsel to Leadership journalists, Femi Falana (SAN).
It stated that the president should appear before the court “from day to day, until the ca is tried, to give evidence on behalf of the accused persons, and also to bring with you and produce at the time and aforesaid, the purportedly forged document titled ‘Presidential Directive’, having on it the seal of the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, published on the front page of Leadership newspaper of April 3, 2013”.

The Federal Government had on June 27, re-arraigned two Leadership journalists, Group News Editor, Tony Amokeodo, and Senior Correspondent, Chibuzo Ukaibe, on an alleged 11-count criminal charge bordering on conspiracy and forgery.
The journalists were however, granted bail by the trial judge, having pleaded not guilty and the court consequently adjourned the case to July 16 for hearing.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, government’s lead counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), told the court that he was ready to go on with trial, but Falana informed the court that a subpoena, personally signed by the trial judge, was served on the presidency, via the Ministry of Justice.

Falana also told the court that he has filed a motion on notice asking for an order of the court to suspend further proceedings in the matter indefinitely (sine die) to await the end of Jonathan’s tenure, to enable him to testify as a witness for the accused persons/applicants.

Falana premised his motion on the grounds that the fundamental right of the accused persons to fair hearing cannot be observed by the court, as their application for the issuance and service of subpoena ad testificandumon Jonathan has not been granted by the court.

According to Falana, “By virtue of Section 308 of the 1999 CFRN (as amended), this honourable court lacks thevires to issue and cause to be served, a subpoena ad testificandumon the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR to testify as a witness for the accused persons in this case”.

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