Alleged terrorism: Court declines jurisdiction, returns case file to Chief Judge for re-assignment

Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday, declined jurisdiction in a terrorism charge slammed against Emeoyiri Uzoma Benjamin and Okolie Gloria by the Federal Government.

The trial court Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo while ruling on a preliminary objection by the defendants, where in they challenged the territorial jurisdiction of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to handle the matter, ruled that the defendants ought to have been charged in a court located where the alleged offences were committed.

Justice Taiwo ruled  that, even though the Federal High Court is one and has unfettered jurisdiction to handle criminal matters, consideration is given to where the offences on which the legal action was commenced.
He said the issue of jurisdiction is at the discretion of the court, the court has to consider the location of parties in a matter, the nature of the alleged offences and the place where the offences were  committed in determining an application challenging its juriisdiction.
According to the Judge, the prosecution of an accused person should not be conducted where it catches ones fancy, at all times, the venue of the commission of alleged offences should be considered in prosecution.
“I have looked at the charges preferred against the defendants and non of the alleged offences took place outside Imo state. I have nothing before me to show that the defendants be tried in Abuja owing to the issue of insecurity.
“The charges before me showed that the alleged offences took place outside Abuja and, I am of the view that I do not have the territorial jurisdiction to try the defendants here in Abuja. I shall send the file back to the Chief Judge through administrative channel for transfer to the court with territorial jurisdiction to entertain the matter”, the Judge held.
The defendants, in a preliminary objection dated January 1, 2022 prayed the court to decline jurisdiction and dismiss the charge or, in an alternative transfer the case to the Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge to handle.