A Magistrate Court in Akwa Ibom state has struck out a remand application filed against Nollywood actor, Moses Armstrong, over the alleged rαpe of a minor.
Moses Armstrong Arraigned
The actor, who was arrested a few days ago for allegedly defiling a 16-year-old girl, was arraigned on Friday on charges of “rape and threat to life”.
It was gathered that Armstrong committed the act with the girl about three years ago.
The alleged victim, who was said to have been schooling outside Nigeria, returned to the country recently and thereafter petitioned the wife of the state governor with respect to the rape allegation.
During the court sitting on Friday, A. Nyongessien, the prosecutor, prayed the court to remand the actor to a correctional facility, adding that the court lacked the jurisdiction to handle the case.
Nyongessien did not provide details of the case but told the court that the punishment for the charge was life imprisonment and that Armstrong would be arraigned at the High Court.
However, the defence counsel, Emmanuel Pantaleon, in his submission, opposed the application of the prosecution counsel and instead told the court to grant bail to the embattled actor.
Citing relevant legal authorities, Panteleon told the judge that the prosecution knew the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case but deliberately brought it, an action he said was “illegal.”
He argued that Armstrong, being a public figure, would not jump bail.
Nyongessien, in his argument, urged the court to dismiss the claim of the defence counsel that the prosecution is illegal.
He added that the proceeding was provided for by Section 294 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
He asked the court to grant his remand application in the interest of justice.
In his ruling, the judge, Samuel Ukoima, after citing different sections of the State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2022, said the new law had made the filing of a charge where the court lacks jurisdiction obsolete.
Ukoima struck out the application of the prosecution counsel, saying it lacked merit.
“The appropriate procedure for remand proceedings is the filing of a motion ex parte setting out the grounds for the remand of the suspect as clearly stated in the law.
“I do not think that the filing of a charge before a magistrate court where the court lacks jurisdiction is required any longer. All that is necessary for an applicant seeking the remand of a suspect is stated in the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Akwa Ibom State.
“Therefore, the application of bail as canvassed by the defence counsel is nullified when the remand proceedings are defective.
“The application of the prosecution counsel is not meritorious and is at this moment struck out,” the judge ruled.
The implication of the ruling, the judge said, is that the defendant has to be rearrested and taken back to the cell. Then he can be brought back by motion ex parte, or the suspect is taken to the High Court and information filed.
Moses Armstrong was re-arrested and taken back to police custody.
KanyiDaily recalls that another Nollywood actor, Baba Ijesha has also been in a protracted legal battle involving rape allegations and a minor.