Lockdown: We’ll challenge the judgement against taxi driver who stripped naked, says lawyer

Lockdown: We’ll challenge the judgement against taxi driver who stripped naked, says lawyer
April 17
17:44 2020

Tope Akinyode, a lawyer, says the sentence handed to Emmanuel Imhoudu, a taxi driver in Abuja who striped naked to protest his arrest, would be challenged.

In a viral video, Imhoudu was seen stripping naked to protest the seizure of his vehicle by the police after he was accused of flouting the lockdown order.

He was later arraigned at a magistrate’s court on a three-count charge filed against him for picking up passengers during the lockdown.
The court sentenced him to six months in prison on Thursday. As an alternative, he was asked to pay N10, 000 fine on each of the counts and asked to issue a public apology on any television network.

But Akinyode described the trial as “a charade that is bound to be set aside”.

Quoting a section of the quarantine act, Akinyode said the maximum fine for flouting the rule was N200 as against the N30,000 fine his client was asked to pay.

He added that the public apology could also demoralise his client.

“I was told by Mr Imhoudu that all through his trial and conviction, he was not represented by any lawyer. As a matter of fact, he was not even availed a copy of the charge sheet against him to know in clear terms what his offences are,” he said.

“Furthermore, in convicting Imhoudu, the Magistrates ordered him to pay a fine of 30 thousand naira for the 3 offences he was convicted for or be sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.

“Imhoudu has already paid the 30 thousand naira but we will be challenging the judgment at the earliest possible time tomorrow because the whole trial is a charade that is bound to be set aside.

“By virtue of Section 35 (2) of the Constitution, any person who is arrested is entitled to have an audience with his lawyer. Further, by virtue of Section 36 (6) of the Constitution, a Defendant must be made to properly understand his offence, given adequate opportunity and time to prepare his case, make his defence and be adequately defended by a lawyer.

“This is the whole essence of fair hearing, which, as the courts have held must not be violated unless it would render any judgement of court reached without it null and void.

“It is quite interesting to note that by virtue of Section 5 of the Quaratine Act under which the Presidential regulation which Mr Imhoudu purportedly flouted was made, the maximum fine or monetary punishment for a Defendant is the sum of N200 or imprisonment for a term of six months.

“There is also no provision to issue a television apology after conviction, which if allowed could demoralise the convicted person and suffer him double jeopardy.

“In essence, the fine of 10 thousand naira and television apology for violating the restriction order of the president finds no expression under any known law.

“Against the foregoing and upon Mr Imhoudu’s instruction, we shall approach the Magistrates court today asking it to vacate its judgement which clearly has no legal basis.”


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