Court orders arraignment of property developer over criminal intimidation

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read
Mr Cecil Osakwe, M.D Abeh Signatures Ltd

An FCT court sitting in Bwari on Friday ordered the arraignment of a lawyer, and property developer, Mr Cecil Osakwe  on November 6,2023 over alleged criminal intimidation of one Asabe Waziri, a civil servant. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendant, Cecil Osakwe, a property developer, was charged with fraud and criminal intimidation of one Ms Asabe Waziri with injury, and intent to cause her harm and even death.

Mr Osakwe is the Managing Director of Abeh Signatures, builders of Abeh Signatures Apartment in Maitama, Abuja, where Ms Waziri bought a two bedroom flat apartment with boy’s quarters. The intimidation was allegedly to cause Waziri to stop requesting the receipt of payment for the purchase of the apartment.

Justice Mohammed Madugu gave the order sequel to a motion for preliminary objection filed earlier by Osakwe’s Counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, asking the court to disregard the suit before it, based on an earlier judgment in another court.

Justice Madugu however said that the earlier case with suit no: FCT/C/2435/2021, whose judgment was delivered by Justice Usman Othman in an FCT High Court in Jabi, Abuja was distinctively different from the one before him.

While noting that the parties involved in the matter were not the same and that the issues raised were also not the same, the judge explained that one was a civil case and the other, a criminal case.

The judge said: “The defendant here is charged with potential criminal liability for a separate alleged offense, based on inquiries of police investigation, which includes intimidation, threat to life, harassment and fraud. The court is guided by principles of law. Civil and criminal matters are different. Civil matters do not automatically exonerate an individual from a potential criminal charge;

“I must emphasize, the judgment in a civil case with suit no: FCT/CV/2435/2021 does not absolve Mr Cecil Osakwe from a potential criminal activity. It is in the interest of justice that the defendant determines his innocence with respect to the claimant’s charge”.

According to Madugu, the defendant is to be arraigned and his plea taken on charges filed against him. The arraignment is to provide the prosecution an opportunity to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt while the defendant stands in defense.”

The judge while refusing the defense notice of preliminary objection also adjourned the matter until November 6, 2023  for arraignment of the suspect.

The charge read: The charge read: “That you Cecil Osakwe, male, adult of Signature Limited, sometime in 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honorable court threatened Ms Asabe Waziri with injury to her person and reputation.

“This you did with intent to cause harm and even death in order to cause her to stop requesting legitimately from you her receipt for payment for the purchase of a unit of two bedroom flat with a maid’s quarter at Abeh Signature Apartment, 1, Mekong Close, Abuja from you and the deeds of assignment thereof.

“You thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 396 (2) and punishable under Section 397(a) of the Penal Code Law (Cap. 89).”

NAN also reports that the matter was re-assigned to Justice Mohammed Madugu after the defendant failed on three occasions to appear before Justice Mohammed Idris of the FCT High Court, sitting in Jabi for arraignment.

The Defence Counsel, Mr Victor Giwa, had earlier, argued that the subject-matter before the court by the prosecuting counsel had previously been decided and settled by another court in a suit file: FCT/HC /CV/2435/ 2021 on March 17, 2022.

In a preliminary objection, Giwa submitted that the court should decline the prosecutor’s application to re-litigate the matter and dismiss it for lack of jurisdiction.

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