Bar Exam Scandal: Witness Drops Bombshell In Ayade-Jalingo Case

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Reports

By Jonathan Ugbal

A prosecution witness, Chinonso Mmuozoba Esq, testified in court on Monday that he cannot confirm whether highly placed individuals in society are beneficiaries of examination malpractice during the bar final exams of the Nigerian Law School.

He stated this while under cross-examination by Marshal Abubakar Esq, counsel to the defendant in suit number FHC/ABJ/CT/565/2022 between the Commissioner of Police and Citizen Agba Jalingo, a Journalist and Activist.

When asked about the existence of a group of people aiding those carrying out examination malpractice at the Nigerian Law School, Mr. Mmuozoba said, “I am not aware of a syndicate in the law school,” despite initially admitting that staff and students of the institution were facing trial for such actions.

When pressed further on whether highly placed individuals were beneficiaries of such a syndicate, he told the Court, “I don’t know if they are benefitting from it.”

Jalingo is facing charges including an offense punishable by Section 24 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015 due to a Facebook post he made querying why Paschal Aboh Esq, a suspended lecturer of the University of Calabar was facing trial for impersonation when the person he allegedly wrote for, Mrs. Elizabeth Ayade, wife of Mr. Frank Ayade, the younger brother of Senator Ben Ayade, the immediate past Governor of Cross River State was walking free.

Mmuozoba’s Testimony

In his testimony, Mmuozoba stated that he is 28 years post-call and served as the coordinator of the Bar resit examination of May 2022 and Director of Academics in the Nigerian Law School. He speaks on behalf of the Council of Legal Examination and said that the first time he met Mrs.

Ayade was in court on Monday. According to him, he did not know Mrs. Ayade because she was not involved in exam malpractice.

He averred that he was invited by the FCT command of the Nigerian Police in September 2022 where he was quizzed about Mrs. Ayade and pointed out that Mr. Aboh was writing for Mr. Orekoya Benjamin Kayode and that the Council of Legal Education has no information on Mrs. Ayade.

He said Mr. Kayode with registration number 221898 was the one who contracted Mr. Aboh and is currently at large. He admitted that Mr. Kayode was a student in the 2018 session and was charged to Court for examination malpractice. He said the Council barred Mr. Kayode for life because of that action.

When asked if he was aware that a court of competent jurisdiction discharged and acquitted Mr. Orekoya, he said he was aware that he was discharged on technical grounds. However, he said Mr. Orekoya “went behind” and re-registered for the bar final resit with the same information but with a different face.

When asked why Orekoya was allowed to write the exams, he said they were on watch as they did not want to stop all bearing the name “Orekoya,” and therefore had to move seat to seat to find out Orekoya Benjamin Kayode and upon sighting Paschal knew there was something not right from his Identity Card.

He said all requisite documents have been tendered before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and he could not say how many people have been arrested and prosecuted over the years even though it is a rarity in the institution.

Meanwhile, efforts by the prosecution to present their third and final witness after Mrs. Ayade and Mr. Mmuozoba were frustrated by the defendant after Mr. Marshall told the Court that replacing the witness meant that the defendant will not be able to defend himself as required by law because it would violate his right to a fair hearing.

Mr. Marshall argued that an oral application made by prosecutor Fidelis Ogbobe Esq for his PW2 Inspector Eze Okochukwu and team to be replaced by SP Danbaba Alura meant that the defendant does not have access to their witness statement on oath.”

Mr. Ogbobe, in his argument, said since the phrase “and team” was included in the prosecutor’s list of witnesses, it meant that any member of that team was entitled to speak, especially SP Alura who led the team that investigated the matter. He described SP Alura as an “official witness” whose actions form the basis of the team’s investigation.

However, Mr. Marshall argued that there was a need for every witness of the prosecutor to have a witness statement of oath even if it is a Police investigation report which Mr. Ogbobe said the defense had not asked for. Mr. Marshall said the law is trite that every witness deposition must be reduced to writing and on oath.

Justice Abubakar then proceeded to caution the prosecutor to ensure the entire list of witnesses is always captured in their processes to prevent any confusion and claims of unfair hearing.

The matter was subsequently adjourned until November 8, 2023, for the continuation of hearing.

The Case

Mrs. Ayade who was in Court on Monday, had in July 2022, through her lawyer, Uyi Frank Obayagbona Esq written to Mr. Jalingo sought a retraction of his post and asked for an apology to be published in two national dailies, including, but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Cross River Watch (not CrossRiverWatch) as well as NGN 500 million in damages. He was given fourteen days to comply otherwise legal proceedings will be instituted against him.

However, the FCT Command of the Nigerian Police on August 19, 2022, stormed the Ogudu, in Lagos State residence of Citizen Jalingo, and arrested him, several hours after holding his wife and daughter hostage.

He was subsequently detained at the Alapere police station and later, at Area F Command in Ikeja before he was flown to Abuja the next day where it was revealed that Mrs. Ayade had abandoned the civil approach and rather petitioned him for allegedly defaming her character.

He was released later that night and when asked to return two days later on August 22nd, was asked to go back to Lagos since Mrs. Ayade failed to show up.

But, news filtered in, in January 2023, that the Police abandoned the criminal defamation case and opted to sue Citizen Jalingo for alleged cyber crimes.

Also, civil proceedings secretly filed in September 2022 at the High Court of the FCT, were served vide substituted means at the gate of Hit 95.9 FM Calabar where Mr. Jalingo is not a staff.

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