By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA– An Abuja Chief Magistrate Court, on Wednesday, struck out a defamation suit that an aide to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, Chinasa Nwaneri, instituted against the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere.
Magistrate Umah Isa Dodo, in his ruling, held that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He noted that facts in issue in the matter, is already pending before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, sitting at Garki.
Magistrate Dodo said he was minded to hands off the matter to enable the high court to determine an application the CUPP spokesperson filed for a Judicial Review of the case against him.
“I have carefully listened to the argument for and against the said application by the defence counsel and the norminal complainant and the best thing to do at this point is to avoid judicial rascality by allowing the high court to first determine the application for Judicial Review, to be heard and determined on its merit”.
He held that the direct criminal complaint against the Ugochiyere bordered on the issue of defamation which the Magistrate Court does not have the jurisdiction to determine.
“This court does not have the jurisdiction. To avoid academic exercise, I shall hands off this case to allow it to be reassigned to the appropriate court of Justice”, Magistrate Dodo further held.
It will be recalled that Nwaneri who is a Special Adviser, SA, to governor Uzodinma had approached the Magistrate Court, accusing the CUPP spokesperson of maligning his character and integrity.
Following the suit, the Magistrate Court threatened to order Ugochiyere’s arrest unless he appeared before it for trial.
In a counter-move, the CUPP spokesperson approached an FCT high court with an application praying it to review the proceedings before the Magistrate Court with a view to determining if it has the jurisdiction to entertain the case Nwaneri brought before it.
The high court, in a ruling by Justice M. A. Hassan, ordered the Magistrate Court to suspend the proceedings before it.
The CUPP spokesperson had raised the alarm over what he termed as massive manipulation of voters register in Imo state, especially at Omuma, the Ward of governor Uzodinma.
Irked by Ugochinyere’s claim that he took part in the alleged electoral fraud, Nwaneri initiated the case the Magistrate Court struck out on Wednesday.
According to the CUPP spokesperson, the alleged fraud included the importation of photos that does not belong to eligible electorates in the state, into the voters’ register.
He further claimed that Voter Registration in Omuma, the home Ward of governor Uzodinma, was inflated with fictitious names, an allegation the Imo state government had since denied.
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