The Chief Magistrate Court III, sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State has arraigned a Makurdi based lawyer, Mr. Okpale Ojikpa, for using evidence in court known to be false, contrary to Section 161 of the Penal Code against the Nasarawa State Government.
The suspect who was remanded for 48 hours at the Lafia Correctional facility, was also accused for presenting false statement in declaration, which is by law receivable as evidence, contrary to Section 164 of the Penal Code.
Mr. Ojikpa was arraigned in court after an arrest warrant issued to him, compelling him to appear in person as enshrined in the Nasarawa State Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The counsel to the Nasarawa State Government, who doubles as the lead counsel, Egye Usman Aliyu said, the records before the court show that Mr. Okpale use fake court judgements to obtain Garnishee Orders on the accounts of the State Government, saying that, it contravened Section 161 and section 164 of the Penal Code.
Aliyu applied to the court that the particulars of the complaint be read out to the suspect, to apprise him of why was in court, adding that, the judgement Mr. Ojikpa was alleging is a continued case, has been determined at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Speaking further on the matter, Aliyu said, Mr. Ojikpa illegally obtained Orders from the court on several occasions, which is considered to be fraud contrary to Section 163 of the panel code.
According to the state counsel, the nature of the offence carries a jail term of seven years, and should Mr. Ojikpa be released bail, there is likelihood that, he will continuing with the threats against the state government.
The lead counsel to the defendant, Ucha P. Ulegede, applied for bail to enable his client carefully peruse the document for defense.
He further stated that, the issues raised by the prosecuting counsel was a misinformation, and as such, opportunity should be given to the defendant to prepare for their defense as stipulated by Section 36, subsection 6 (b) of the 1999 constitution.
He however thanked the prosecuting counsel, for the spirit of friendship extended to the defendant, saying that, irrespective of whatever happens, they are still one. He also appreciated the court and Chief Judge of the State for intervening on the matter, and prayed that, it will be resolved amicably. In his words: “lawyers are like scissors, we cut whatever that comes our way but not ourselves”.
The presiding Magistrate, Emmanuel Jatau ESQ, who granted bail to Mr. Ojikpa considering the records before the court, adjoined the case till 16 January 2022 for hearing.
The terms for the bail is bond of one million naira, and one surety in likesome who must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court.
It will be recalled that, Ojikpa, who is alleged to be acting on behalf of a segment of the pensioners, under the auspices of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, had filed a Notice of Appeal and a Motion seeking an interlocutory injunction to restrain the banks from allowing the Nasarawa State Government to access its accounts.
The lawyer who is alleged to be fraudulent in his affairs, according to records in court, has been engaging in a campaign of malpractice, to abuse and misuse the processes of courts to obtain garnishes order on three different occasions from court of competent jurisdiction, after filling false and misleading affidavits and obviating facts at the High Courts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
It is on record that, the State government had entered into terms of settlement with the pensioners’ union for a structured release of funds for the payment and servicing of backlog/arrears of gratuities which had accumulated for over a period of 25 years. Despite several negotiations, agreements and the consistent payment to the pensioners, Mr. Ojikpa was still pushing against the compromised terms.
The state government pointed out that, on each occasion, the courts, upon discovering the fraud orchestrated by Mr. Ojikpa, have set aside the garnishee order Nisi and reprimanded Mr. Ojikpa, which has fallen on a deaf ears.
It should be noted that, any time the accounts of the State Government are so unlawfully garnished, the workers and people of Nasarawa State bear the brunt most, as salaries are delayed, lives and properties of citizens of the state are at risk, leading to increase in insecurity, deaths and near total collapse of public institutions, including schools and health facilities.
The State Government however expressed dismay over the action of Mr. Ojikpa and describes it as false, misleading and criminal, capable of breaching the existing peace, order and security of the State.
The state government further stated that, the actions of illegal and unlawful use of court process, if left unchecked by relevant legal institutions, will destroy the integrity of our judicial system and result in chaos in the polity as Mr. Ojikpa appears to be on a mission of destroying Nasarawa State.
The State Government therefore, in a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal Cpaital Territory and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), called on the stakeholders in the judicial sector to rise to the occasion and protect the integrity of the hallowed courts and its processes, as such intervention will ensure that due care and vigilance will be exercised in the judicial process to avoid a dent in the image of the judiciary as the avatar of the Almighty Judge of all men.