Lawyer Writes Lagos CJ Over Magistrate’s Refusal To Sign Release Order

Lagos Chief Judge, Justice K. Alogba

A lawyer Mr. Elvis Asia, has petitioned the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, over the failure of a magistrate, Mrs. F. M. Dalley, to sign release order for his client, whom he said was detained beyond stipulated Constitution period.

The lawyer in his petition dated June 9, 2023, said the petition became expedient over what he described as ‘undue influence of the Nigeria Police’ in her Honour’s decision not to sign the release order.

Mr. Elvis therefore urged the Chief Judge, to assert the authority, independence and the impartiality of the judiciary in upholding the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The petition which was captioned: “Petition Against F.M. Dalley (Court 10, Igbosere Magistrate Court, Sitting At Court 2 Yaba), For The Failure To Sign Release Order Of Cecilia Agu”, reads: “My Lord, we were counsel to Cecilia Agu in Charge M/399/2023, a remand proceeding instituted against her by the Nigeria Police Force, Zone 2 Command.

“We are constrained to bring this petition against the unexplained refusal of her Honour, F.M. DALLEY (Mrs.) (Court 10, Igbosere Magistrate Court, Sitting at Court 2 Yaba) to sign the order of release of our client which she made in open court on June 1, 2023.

“This petition became expedient because of what appears to be the undue influence of the Nigeria Police Force in her Honour’s decision not to sign the release order.

“On May 11, 2023, her Honour remanded our client for 14 days contrary to the Clear import of section 264 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, which provides that a remand order can only be made when applied for within a reasonable time. The reasonable time contemplated by the section cannot be more than 24 hours in the circumstances of our client’s case. The court was informed of the fact that our client was arrested on May 5, 2023, a period Of almost a week which is clearly more than the reasonable time contemplated by the Constitution.

“It is our position, and we urge your Lordship to give appropriate directives, that a remand application brought outside the reasonable time provided by the constitution cannot be granted as it is against the spirit and intent of the Constitution which is the ground norm of this Country.

“Be that as it may, upon the expiration of the 14 days granted, the Police totally failed to explain why they deliberately refused to bring our client to the court and neither was any explanation offered on the extent of the investigation that they claim they were carrying out.

“In fact, the Investigating Police Officer, one Ibrahim, who came to the court on that day, told the court that our client was in their office and that he does not know anything about the case. This was after the matter was stood down till about 12noon for him to come to court as he was absent when the court resumed session on that day.

“In light of the above circumstances and considering our application before the court which shows conclusively that the Federal High Court had ordered the unconditional release of our client but that the Police were still holding onto the remand order, the court justifiably set aside the remand order and ordered the police to release our client.

“We were however shocked when her Honour stated that the release order will only be available on Tuesday June 6, 2023. We were shocked because for a matter bothering on the constitutional right to liberty which has been clearly violated, one would have thought that the order will be signed With dispatch. Nevertheless, we waited till Tuesday June 6, 2023, yet the order was not signed and has not been signed at the time of writing this petition.

“We are concerned about the actions of her Honour, F. M. DALLEY (Mrs.) because it has emboldened the Police in their illegal and unconstitutional quest to continue to detain our client. Our fear is further amplified by the statement made by the police after the order was made to the effect that they will ensure the order is not given effect to. Could her Honour’s refusal be linked to this threat?

“We appeal to your Lordship to assert the authority, independence and the impartiality of the judiciary in upholding the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The judiciary is the last hope of our client and indeed all Nigerians in the face of the determined attempt by the Police to act above the law.
We are most obliged.”