Sexual Assault: ICPC Urges Court To Dismiss Ndifon Lawyer’s No Case Submission

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By Kenneth Atavti 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has urged the Federal High Court, Abuja to dismiss the no case submission application in the sexual harassment trial of the suspended Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, Professor Cyril Ndifon and his lawyer, Barrister Sunny Anyanwu.

The Commission is prosecuting Ndifon and Anyanwu before Justice James Omotosho of Court 8 over an alleged sexual misconduct and attempt to perverse the cause of justice contrary to Sections 8, 18 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and Section 182 of the Penal Code Cap. 532 Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, 2006.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, counsel to the two defendants, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN told the court that upon the receipt of ICPC’s reply to the written address on the nocase submission application, the defence had resolved to rely on the same argument to the court to allow the no case submission.

He also argued that the position of the defendants was that in the originating process, “the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.”

Citing Section 26 subsection 2 of the ICPC Act, Mr. Agi said it is only the state or the FCT High Court that has jurisdiction to hear the case adding that territorial jurisdiction also applies since the alleged offences took place in Calabar, Cross River State hence it should be heard there and not in Abuja.

The counsel to the defendants also told the court that ICPC invaded the privacy of his clients as the Commission ‘failed’ to secure a court order before it subjected the phones of the first and second defendants to forensic examinations.

“You do not invade anyone’s privacy unless you come to court and ICPC did not answer that when the question was posed to it. Again, TKJ (the 2nd Prosecution witness) never complained to anyone about her affair with the first defendant but ICPC broke their privacy by sharing their private pictures. TKJ is an adult and once you are above 18, you are at liberty to do what you like”, he argued.

In his response, Counsel to ICPC, Dr. Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha told the court that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the defendants hence the prayer for the dismissal of the no case submission filed by their counsel.

He added that the position of the prosecution was that the defendants’ argument on the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case lacked merit as all matters that has to do with cybercrime, as provided for in the Cybercrime Act are instituted in the Federal High Court.

On the allegation that ICPC invaded the privacy of the defendants by subjecting their phones to forensic investigations, Akponimisingha argued that the defendants were already under investigation and they also signed a consent form allowing access to their respective phones and opined that “no right is absolute”.

He cited Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution which saysthat nothing in Section 37 (of the same Constitution) that dwelled on privacy of citizens can invalidate any law on public morality which the case is hinged on.

The trial judge, Justice Omotosho thereafter adjourned the case to March 6, 2024 for ruling on the no case submission as well as the application for variation on bail granted to the first defendant.