Kaduna Magistrate Defies High Court, Insists on Odinkalu’s Trial

1
Chidi Odinkalu

Tobi Soniyi

In what amounts to judicial rascality, a Kaduna Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Mr. Ibrahim Musa has ruled that he would continue with the trial of alleged incitement filed against a former Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu after a High Court of Kaduna State had stopped him from continuing with the trial.

A Kaduna State High Court had on January 20 granted leave to Odinkalu to seek judicial review of his trial by the Kaduna State Government before the magistrate court.

The order made by Justice S.S Daka of the state high court, was sequel to a motion ex-parte by Odinkalu’s lawyer, Gloria Balason seeking for leave of court to apply for a judicial review by way of an order for certiorari in case KMD/2019 between the State v. Odinkalu.

Granting the reliefs, Daka said, “Leave is hereby granted to apply for a judicial review by way of an order for certiorari in case KMD/2019 between the state versus Odinkalu.

“An order is hereby granted stipulating that the granting of leave of paragraph 1 above shall operate in the interim to stay proceedings in suit KMD/2019 pending the hearing of the motion on notice.”

The high court order was served on the chief magistrate who was also the second respondent in the case at the high court.
After securing the high court order, Odinkalu through his lawyer, Balason applied to the magistrate for a stay of execution of the trial since a higher court had stayed further proceeding in the matter.

The enrolled court order was also exhibited in the application for stay of proceedings.

However, in his ruling on the application, last Friday, the chief magistrate said that it had not been shown that he had no jurisdiction to try the case.
He also held that he was not aware of the proceeding for a certorari before the high court
He therefore ruled that he had jurisdiction to continue with the trial and would continue with the trial. He consequently adjourned to April 7.

The Kaduna State government had last year filed charges bordering on injurious falsehood and incitement against Odinkalu before the chief magistrate, seeking the activist’s imprisonment for faulting Governor Nasir el-Rufai claim that 66 Fulani residents were killed in an attack in Kajuru, Kaduna State.
The chief magistrate’s court in Kaduna has been hearing the charges behind closed doors since they were filed at the apparent instance of Governor El-Rufai.
Odinkalu’s lawyers had earlier claimed that trial had been characterised by “unnecessary adjournments and secrecy” with little progress made months after it was filed.

Part of the reliefs sought by Odinkalu in his motion ex-parte before the Kaduna State High Court; is “An order stipulating that the granting of leave of paragraph 1 above shall operate on the interim to stay proceedings in suit KMD/2019 pending the hearing of the motion on notice.”