-Justice Defence Project
Justice Defence Project , an Abuja Based Justice Sector Think Tank has Thrown its Weight Behind Honourable Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo, a Judge of the Edo State High Court in the Cybercrime and Criminal Defamation Case Against Osazee Edigin , a Benin Based Social Media Influencer who posted content online that disparaged the person and Office of the Judge , for which he was arrested following a Petition by Lawyers to Judge.
In a Statement issued in Abuja on Thursday 2nd of December , 2022 by the Programmes Officer of the Think Tank Joseph Oladele states thus :
“in putting the issues culminating in the arrest and Investigation of Osazee edigin by the Edo State Police Headquarters , it is important to dissect the factual matrix as deduced from sources as official records on the issue as follows:
1.On the 17th of November ,2022, Justice Geraldine Imadegbelo was being chauffer driven, by My Lord’s Official Driver , in an Official Car as a Passenger ,with her Secretary , another Passenger in front of the SUV . According to the Edo State Traffic Management Control Law , culpability in an alleged traffic offence is tied only to the driver and not the passenger.
2.A Staff of the Edo State Transport Management ESTMA- one Mr Omoruyi accosted the vehicle and was hitting on the window of the Judge , the driver, beckoned on him and asked him to see him and Mr Omoruyi indicated that the driver had beat traffic and an altercation ensued .The Judge called for another vehicle ,called officials of the High Court and left the scene immediately .
3.Before then , Mr Omoruyi had removed the number plates of the vehicle and broken the side mirror of the SUV, both actions are illegal as the only penalty prescribed by Edo State Transport Management and Control Law is a fine of N2,000 and a seizure of the driver’s license .That itself can not be done by ESTMA, it can only be done a Court of Competent Jurisdiction , duly constituted-See Enegede v ESTMA-Per Justice Peter Akinkero of the Edo State High Court. .ESTMA can not also operate on Federal Roads ,as ESTMA has jurisdiction only on Truck B and Truck C Roads-State and LG Roads and not Truch A Roads -Federal Roads.See K.O. Obamogie v ESTMA -Per Retired Justice Efe Frances Ikpomwen and Paul Osarenkhoe v ESTMA.-Per Retired Justice Ada Ehigiamusoe, both then of Edo State High Court .
4.The Officials of the High Court led by a Deputy Chief Registrar , who doubles as a Magistrate , came to the scene as is customary on issues concerning a serving Judge as it is the Registry that deals with the public, on issues concerning a Judge .
5.That all the parties went to the High Court Headquarters on Sapele Road, Benin City and Mr Omoruyi promised to fix the side mirror and he immediately returned the illegally ceased number plates .
6.Osazee Edigin led an online campaign that My Lord nearly knocked down an Edo State Traffic Management Agency ( ESTMA )Official, beat traffic and called in thugs .Our Investigations indicated that this is a false misrepresentation of facts , as the video used to trend the false news , showed that My Lord was not even in the Video , but had left the scene and those they call ” thugs” , are officials of the Edo State High Court led by a Deputy Chief Registrar , who doubles as a Magistrate .
7.My Lord had calls from all over the Country from Supreme Court Justices ,Court of Appeal Justices, High Court Judges and Family Members , asking about the veracity of the story , which went all over the blogosphere.My Lord was only a passenger ,just like her Secretary, the vehicle had a driver . The falsehood made My Lord to be viewed with disdain ,odium and opprobrium in the eyes of right thinking Members of the Public .
8.My Lord may be a Judge , but My Lord is human and just like all humans My Lord has rights and a reputation to protect .It is within My Lord ‘s Rights to protect her reputation and seek redress in this Matter following the due process of Law .
8.My Lord’s Lawyers did a Petition to the Edo State Headquarters on the Matter , Osazee Edigin was arrested ,where he made a confessional statement of his culpability in the alleged crime of spreading false hood on the Internet and Cyber Stalking , he was released on conditional bail .
9.The Law is the Law and when ever there is a right , there is a remedy , Osazee Edigin who put the videos on the Internet should know that there could be repercussions.If you put a false narrative calling officials of the High Court , including a Magistrate “thugs”, we believe it is important the case is investigated to unravel the truth .This whole thing smacks of black mail as there is a connection between My Lord’s Official and Constitutional duty of remanding six protesters, pending conclusion of Police Investigations, which Protesters were allegedly suspected of using animals to do fetish practices in a public place in a riotous manner and pulling down a public utility , as provided for by the Applicable Law , as Osazee Edigin is in league with some of the Activists ,who did a Coalition Protest at the Office of the Commissioner Police, Edo State on the 1st of December, 2022, with Malice and After thought. Nigeria is a Society guided by Laws and if the Lawyers of a Judge has followed the same Law to ventilate her grievances as a Human , what has My Lord done wrong ? This is a Police Investigation.Osazee Edigin should have nothing to fear , if his hands are clean the Investigators will reveal same .But for him and Friends to say there should be no Investigations ,when a crime has been allegedly committed under the guise of freedom of speech , is laughable as the same Laws that provide for freedom speech , also provides for penalties , when same is abused . Freedom of Speech is not Freedom to say or post nonsense”.
-Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese.”
STATEMENT IS ISSUED BY:-Joseph Oladele,Programmes Officer , the Justice Defence Project, Abuja . 1st December, 2022.