A property development firm, 1004 Estate Limited, has instituted a suit against the Lagos State’s Attorney-General (AG), for allegedly issuing two conflicting Legal Advice on a criminal matter.
The firm in a Motion on Notice and Motion Ex-parte, filed before the court by its lawyer, Oluwafemi O. N. Olabisi, of Festus Keyamo Chambers, is seeking an order of Mandamus compelling the AG to review it’s decision to wit: a review of the purported and undated Nolle Prosequi in respect of charge No: 179/2016, pending before Magistrate W. B. Balogun.
It also seeks an order affording the victim/complainant opportunity to make representation before the power of the Nolle Prosequi is exercised by the AG.
The applicant also want an order staying the proceedings before Magistate W. B. Balogun in criminal charge No. 179/2016, between Commissioner of Police vs Tayo Soetan and Nine others, pending the review of the purported and undated Nolle Prosequi, in respect of the charge.
Stating the grounds for the reliefs sought, the applicant stated that being the applicant in the charge No. 179/2016, between C.O.P vs Tayo Soetan and nine others, is aggrieved by the purported exercise of discretionary power of the AG to enter Nolle Prosequi in respect of the charge without giving it an opportunity to be heard.
It also stated that the respondent’s exercise of its Nolle Prosequi power is clearly at variance with its Legal Advice issued on November 4, 2016, in respect of the same charge.
In giving the facts that brought about the two motions, the applicant stated that it is aggrieved by the purported exercise of the AG’s power/discretion to discontinue proceedings in charge no. 179/2016, between C.O.P Vs Tayo Soetan and nine others as it is completely at variance with its Legal advice issued on November 4, 2016, in respect of the same set of facts.
The petitioner added that the purported supplementary Legal Advice with reference number LJP/MISC/2016 is predicated upon review made after a petition dated June 8, 2017, was written by 1004 Home Owners and Resident Association.
It also claimed that it was denied of fair hearing by not been put on notice of the petition written by 1004 Home Owners and Resident Association, thereby denying it the opportunity to do a rejoinder to the said petition.
The applicant further stated that the review was done without giving it, who is the victim of the forceful entry and take over done by the 1004 Home Owners and Residents Association to make its representation, adding that it was denied fair hearing by not been put on notice
Furthermore, the applicant stated that the discretion exercised by the AG to discontinue proceedings in charge No. 179/2016, between C.O.P vs Tayo Soetan and nine others, was not done judicially and judiciously, having not considered all the possible interest in the matter.
It also stated that the AG having considered the facts as made available in the duplicate file sent to its office, gave the verdict in its Legal Advice of November 4, 2016, that there was a prima facia case of forcible entry contrary to section 52 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, C17, Vol 3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
But that the AG in a bizarre departure and self-invalidation purportedly reviewed the same sets of facts as made available in the same duplicate file sent to arrive at a No Case to Answer.
In urging the court to grant its request stated that the Nolle Prosequi to discontinue proceedings in charge No 179/2016, between C.O. P vs Tayo Soetan and nine others was brought mala fide.
The Lagos State’s Attorney-General is yet to file any response to the suit and no date has been fixed for its hearing as the court is currently on vacation.
Recalled that on Thursday July 13th, attempt by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to have the Criminal charge filed by the Nigeria Police against Tayo Soetan and nine others, over alleged conspiracy and forcibly entry into 1004 Estate, withdrawn was not granted by Magistate W. B. Balogun, of Igbosere Chief Magistate Court, Lagos.
Others standing trial over the alleged offences alongside Soetan are: Bosun Sosanya Olabisi Oladapo, Anthony Ogunkoya, Femi Romiluyi, Akposibruke Ochuko, Ehiosu Erhagbai Oviawe, Friday Alika; and Adebayo Ademiluyi.
The Inspector General of Police had alleged in a charge marked G/13/2017, that all the accused persons conspired among themselves to commit felony by forcibly entered into the office of the Managing Director of 1004 Estate Limited, Mr. Samuel Ukpong and forcibly took over the management of the Estate from him and disrupt the smooth administration of the Estate.
At the second hearing of the case, a counsel from the DPP interjected in the matter and informed the court to amend the charge from Inspector-General (IGP) to Commissioner of Police Vs Tayo Soetan and others.
Strangely, on the third trial date of the accused persons, the DPP informed the court of its intention to withdraw the charge against them.
However, the application was strongly opposed by a lawyer to one of the accused persons, who argued that there are two charges of the same facts before the court, if the DPP intend to withdraw one which his client is not included will amount to bias and injustice.
He told the court that the right thing to do by the DPP is to withdraw the charges against all the accused persons.
Also, lawyer to the complainant, called the attention of the court to his client’s pending application at the Lagos High Court before granting the DPP’s request.
The presiding Magistate, W. B. Balogun, while adjourning the matter till August 23, 2017, for ruling, ordered the DPP to do the needful before the next adjourned date.