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Odinkalu challenges court jurisdiction in suit Kaduna filed against him

Odinkalu challenges court jurisdiction in suit Kaduna filed against him
October 17
11:47 2019

Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has challenged the jurisdiction of the Kaduna chief magistrate court hearing a suit filed against him by the government of Kaduna state.

The state government had instituted the case of “injurious falsehood” against Odinkalu following some claims he made about killings in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna in February.

The governor had said 66 Fulani people were killed in the attacks but the former NHRC chairman disagreed, quoting sources as telling him that the casualties were about 11.

Nasir el-Rufai, governor of the state, had tackled the lawyer and subsequently, a suit was filed against him.

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When the matter came up on Wednesday, Gloria Ballason, counsel to Odinkalu, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.

Ballason said the claim by her client was made at a television studio in Abuja, adding that as long as it did not breach the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) code, no issue on crime could be raised.

“The subject matter for this suit as found in the application for criminal direct complaint is an interview granted by the defendant on 16th February, 2019 on Channels Television Broadcast, is a federal matter as can be seen in the 66th item on the exclusive legislative list,” the lawyer said.

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“This court therefore lacks subject matter jurisdiction on the matter before it. The emission and broadcast took place in Abuja not in Kaduna. This court lacks territorial jurisdiction on the matter.

“The primary power to sanction broadcast violators is with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). There is nothing in the proof of evidence to show that the NBC complained about violation of the code.

“Nasir el-Rufai, the person deemed to be the nominal complainant if sufficiently aggrieved, could have lodged a complaint with the NBC rather than seek to take over their job.”

After she had moved her application, Ibrahim Musa, the magistrate, adjourned the matter till November 7 for ruling on the application.

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