A Magistrate Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Friday struck out a remand application filed by the Akwa Ibom State Government against a Nollywood actor, Moses Armstrong, for not being meritorious.
Mr Armstrong, a former aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel, was arraigned on charges of “rape” and “threat to life.”
Like his colleague, James Olanrewaju, also known as Baba Ijesha, Mr Armstrong is the second Nigerian actor to be entangled in an alleged rape case with a minor.
The prosecutor, A. Nyongessien, an assistant state counsel, urged the judge to remand the Nollywood actor to the correctional facility as the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Mr Nyongessien did not provide details of the case but told the court that the punishment for the charge was life imprisonment and that Mr Armstrong would be arraigned at the High Court.
The defence counsel, Emmanuel Pantaleon, in his submission, opposed the application of the prosecution counsel and instead told the court to grant bail to Mr Armstrong.
Citing relevant legal authorities, Mr Panteleon told the judge that the prosecution knew the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case but deliberately brought it, an action he said was “illegal.”
He further told the judge that Mr Armstrong being a renowned Nollywood actor, would not jump bail.
The prosecutor, Mr Nyongessien, in his argument, urged the court to discountenance the prayer of the defence counsel that the prosecution is illegal.
He also added that the proceeding was provided for by Section 294 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
He, therefore, asked the court to grant his remand application in the interest of justice.
The judge, Samuel Ukoima, after citing different sections of the State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2022, said the new law had made the filing of a charge where the court lacks jurisdiction obsolete.
Mr Ukoima said that the new law provides that an applicant should come by way of an ex parte motion.
“The appropriate procedure for remand proceedings is the filing of a motion ex parte setting out the grounds for the remand of the suspect as clearly stated in the law.
“I do not think that the filing of a charge before a magistrate court where the court lacks jurisdiction is required any longer. All that is necessary for an applicant seeking the remand of a suspect is stated in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Akwa Ibom State.
“Therefore, the application of bail as canvassed by the defence counsel is nullified when the remand proceedings are defective.
“The application of the prosecution counsel is not meritorious and is at this moment struck out,” the judge ruled.
The implication of the ruling, the judge said, is that the defendant has to be rearrested and taken back to the cell. Then he can be brought back by motion ex parte, or the suspect is taken to the High Court and information filed.
Mr Armstrong was re-arrested and taken back to police custody.
The defence counsel, Mr Panteleon, declined to comment on the case after the court session.
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