…prosecution in error, charge the journalist on negligence with animals
Respected human rights lawyer, Barrister Festus Okoye, who has taken over defence counsel to Jacob Onjewu Dickson, in a lingering suit at the Kaduna Magistrate Court 1, told the Magistrate, Emmanuel Yusuf that his court lacks jurisdiction to try the matter filed before him.
He expressed this on Monday when the case came up in court, arguing that the first count according to the First Information Report (FIR), where section 416 of the Penal Code was quoted by the prosecution as a matter that was applicable in the Northern Region, which was adopted by the Federal Provisions Ordinance of 1960.
“Penal Code of Kaduna State stops at 409. Whatever was charged under this penal code is not in laws of Kaduna State,” he added.
Speaking further, he said that the second count, where Penal Code 197 was referenced deals with the negligence of animals, and allowing them to stray where a fine of N40 is prescribed for punishment of offenders.
On Penal Code 392 as it relates to defamation of character which is the third count charge against the Kaduna based journalist, Okoye said that the current laws of Nigeria are clear on the matter.
“The current state of the law is that the provision related to sedition is unconstitutional based on Chapter 4 of the constitution, as it relates to freedom of expression. Based on section 39, which relates to freedom of expression and the press,” he said.
The Director Public Prosecution Kaduna State, Dari Bayero raised no objections as Okoye called for adjournment of the matter.
The case was adjourned for February 13, 2017, for filing of motion by the defense counsel.
Outside the court, he told newsmen that he would file a notice of preliminary objection and competence of the charges.
It would be recalled that on April 28, 2016, The Police Commissioner in Kaduna invited Dickson over publications done on online medium AUTHENTIC News Daily, which were thought not to be favourable to the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
He was subsequently detained in a Police cell over night, hurriedly arraigned the following day and sent to prison without options of bail.