The Federal High Court in Abuja has declined to restrain the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) or any prosecutorial agency from charging Mohammed Garba-Gololo with alleged certificate forgery.
Garba-Gololo is the legislator representing Gamawa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State in the House of Representatives.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo in a judgment delivered on July 25, 2022, held that the lawmaker failed to prove that he had already been tried for the offence of forgery or falsification of certificates.
The judge dismissed Garba-Gololo’s double jeopardy argument as canvassed by his counsel Nureini Jimoh (SAN), noting that he failed to produce evidence showing that he had gone through any trial and was convicted or acquitted or pardoned of the alleged allegation.
The defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/294/2022 are the AGF and the ICPC.
The 2nd Defendant had on October 5, 2020, sent a letter of invitation to Garba-Gololo in connection with the forgery allegation.
But the plaintiff, by an originating summons, sought an order restraining the defendants and other prosecutorial agencies from inviting, arresting or charging him on similar facts with the case of the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in suit nos: EPT/NAHR/BA/2019 and CA/J/EPT/NAHR/BA/374/2019 respectively.
He contended that any judgment charging him again before any court by the defendants or any prosecutorial agency would amount to double jeopardy.
He sought, among others, an order quashing the letter of invitation and any other subsequent investigation flowing thereof, “as same amounts to a nullity having regards to the judgments of the Election Petition Tribunal, Bauchi in EPT/NAHR/BA/6/2019 between Isa Mohammed Wabu & Anor. V. Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo dated 10th August, 2019 and the Court of Appeal dated the 1st of November, 2019 in Appeal No. CA/J/EPT/NAHR/BA/374/2019 between Isa Mohammed Wabu & Anor. V. Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo & 2 Ors.”
He further sought a “mandatory prohibitive order of this Honourable Court, barring the Defendants or any other prosecutory agency in Nigeria from inviting, arresting, detaining and prosecuting the Plaintiff in connection with or arising from any transaction forming part of the judgments.”
On June 15, 2022, when the matter came up for hearing, Jimoh for the plaintiff and Ebenezer Shogunle for the 2nd defendant adopted their processes, adumbrated on same and urged the court to grant the reliefs in favour of their respective parties, following which the court adjourned for judgment.
In rejecting Garba-Gololo’s prayers, Justice Taiwo noted the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal decisions he relied on to seek protection from prosecution, were both civil matters and could not fall under the doctrine of estoppel per rem judicatam.
He held: “There is no doubt that the decisions relate to election petition and are civil in nature. The decisions are not criminal notwithstanding that the issue of forgery was examined and the plaintiff was disqualified upon the finding of the court of appeal. The disqualification is pursuant to the provisions of the 1999 constitution and the electoral act.
“The suit was not a charge as expected in criminal proceedings and the plaintiff was not prosecuted by any prosecutorial agency. The parties that the decisions of the courts relate to are the plaintiff and the petitioners vide the election petition. The decisions cannot, therefore, operate as estoppel per rem judicatam.
“The plaintiff herein has failed from the processes filed by him to prove that he stood trial and was convicted or acquitted or pardoned.
“There is nothing to show that the plaintiff has been tried for offence of forgery or falsification of certificates.
“In concluding this judgment, it is my humble and well-considered view that the plaintiff has failed woefully to convince the court to answer all the questions for determination in his favour thus entitling him to the reliefs sought. I so hold.
“The suit fails in its entirety and the same is accordingly dismissed. This is the judgment of the court.”