Sexual Harassment Trial: Court Overrules Ndifon, Lawyers on No Case Submission

…. orders them to enter defence.

Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja has overruled the no case submission made by Professor Cyril Ndifon and his lawyer, Barrister Sunny Anyanwu in the case instituted against them by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The Commission is prosecuting Ndifon and Anyanwu over alleged sexual misconduct and attempt to perverse the cause of justice contrary to Sections 8, 18 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and Section 182 of the Penal Code Cap. 532 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, 2006.

Before the ruling on the no case submission, the second defendant, Barrister Sunny Anyanwu had informed the court of the absence of his counsel and that of the first defendant, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, just as he prayed for an adjournment.

However, Justice J.K Omotosho held that the ruling on the no case submission would be determined first before the prayer for an adjournment would be heard.

While reading his ruling on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case, the judge held that Federal High Court has requisite jurisdiction to entertain matters based on the Corrupt Practices Act 2000.

He cited the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Aweto Vs. FRN (2018) saying the powers of the Federal High Court under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution vested it with exclusive jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters involving federal agencies.

He held that the ICPC is a federal agency and that the first defendant (Cyril Ndifon) is a public officer in a federal institution, hence the Federal High Court has a proper jurisdiction to hear the case.

On the no case submission, Justice Omotosho held that the evidence presented by the prosecution indicated that the 1st defendant (Ndifon) solicited for the nude photos of the TKJ (the second prosecution witness) and that there was need for an explanation from the first defendant on his intents and purpose for such request.

Justice Omotosho also held that the evidence presented by the prosecution indicated that while the original charge was pending, the first defendant sent the phone number of the second prosecution witness (PW2) to the second defendant, (Barrister Sunny Anyanwu).

“These and other pieces of evidence need the defendants to explain their side of the story,” the judge held.

He however noted that “holding that a prima facie case has been established does not necessarily imply that the court finds the defendants guilty of the charge. The defendants are still presumed innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution still has the duty to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt”.

Justice Omotosho told the defendants to enter their defence as the no case submission was overruled. 

He thereafter adjourned the case to 12th of March 2024 for the defendants to enter defence after the bail granted the first defendant was varied.