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Daily Times Ownership tussle: Court grants Anosikes bail with 2 sureties

…Dismisses Police prayer to stop publication

A Federal Capital Territory( FCT) High Court sitting Jabi district of Abuja on Monday admitted the Publisher of the Daily Times of Nigeria, Mr. Fidelis Anosike and the Group Managing Director, Mr. Noel Anosike to bail with two sureties.

Justice Aliyu Yusuf granted the applicants bail after hearing Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) for the applicants and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Henry Njoku who appeared for the IGP.

A magistrate court in Mpape a suburb of Abuja had last Tuesday January 16 ,2018 remanded the applicants in prison custody following a charge filed by the police on the prompting of Senator Ikechukwu Obiora who is contesting ownership of Daily Times of Nigeria since 2010 after he allegedly raised a document claiming chairmanship of the company that was sold to Fidelis Anosike by the federal government.

Ruling on their bail applications, Justice Yusuf ordered the two applicants to provide two sureties that are residence in verifiable addresses in Abuja and that they must own landed property. The sureties, he further ordered should surrender their certificate of occupancy of their ownership of the landed property to the Registrar of the court for custody.

In the 30 minutes ruling, the judge reviewed the submissions,affidavit and exhibits of the applicants and the arguments of Ogunwumiju (SAN) as well as Njoku’s submissions and his preliminary objection. The judge ruled that the preliminary objection lacked merit and consequently dismissed it.

On the bail applications, the judge said he was “satisfied that the applicants are not going to jump bail.” He said that once court is satisfied that an accused whose alleged offences are bailable , the court will use its discretion to grant bail because it is a constitutional right.

” It was the duty on the magistrate to grant the two applicants bail more so when the prosecutor did object and left it to the court discretion ” he ruled.

Read Also- Invasion of The Daily Times complex by Sen. Obiora, SARS: Time to stop the madness

He said that once the court ensure that all requirements for bail are met it should be granted as bail cannot be used as an act of rascality to punish an accuse person. He enjoined magistrates to use bail to ensure that accused persons attend their trials.

While dismissing the preliminary objection justice Yusuf said that the objection which raised issue of jurisdiction, irregular papers filed in court, lawyer’s seal and argument that the applicants will continue to publish The Daily Times Newspapers are ” refused and dismissed. ” The preliminary objection was unnecessary, he added.

Earlier, while moving the application for bail Ogunwumiju (SAN), had prayed the to set aside the remand order and admit the applicants to bail on liberal terms because the alleged offences are bailable.
He said that the matter (ownership of The Daily Times of Nigeria) “is purely a civil case” pending at the Federal High Court and at Appeal Court.

He said that alleged forgery charge against the applicants was illegal because eight years ago when this matter came up the office of Attorney general of federation had advised “that Ownership of The Daily Times is a civil matter”.

In his reply, the prosecution counsel , Njoku had urged the court to dismiss the applicants application for being incompetent.

He said that applicants have committed offence by publishing The Daily Times Newspapers. He added that there is possibility that if the applicants are release on bail they will continue to repeat the offence.

The matter will go back to Magistrate Court Mpape which had last Tuesday adjourned to February 14.

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