The Chief Magistrate’s Court, Ota, Ogun State, has fixed November 21, 2016, to hear the application filed by Mr. Joachim Iroko, the man charged to court for naming his dog ‘Buhari’, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
Mr Iroko was charged before the Court on August 22, 2016, on a one count charge, which states as follows:
“That you Joachim Iroko (aka Joe) and another still at large on the 13th day of August, 2016, at about 1730hrs at Ketere area Sango, in the Ota Magisterial District did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace by writing a name BUHARI on a dog and parading same in the Hausa section of Ketere market Sango and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 249 (d) of Criminal Code Laws of Ogun State of Nigeria, 2006.”
He was granted bail but as he could not afford money to perfect his bail, he was remanded in prison custody while the case was adjourned to September 21, 2016. Mr. Iroko, upon his release from prison custody, later briefed human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and some other lawyers, who all offered to defend him, pro bono.
On September 16, 2016, Mr. Iroko, through his lawyer, Mr Adegboruwa, filed an application before the Court, asking the Magistrate to dismiss the criminal charge, as the conduct complained of did not disclose any criminal offence.
In the said application, Mr Iroko is seeking the following orders, from the court:
“1. AN ORDER quashing Charge No: 671C/2016 preferred against the Applicant herein for want of jurisdiction.
2. AN ORDER setting down this application for hearing preliminarily.
3. AN ORDER staying further proceedings in this Honourable Court, in Charge No. 671C/2016, pending the hearing and final determination of this application.”
The grounds for the application are stated as follows:
“(a) This Honourable Court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon Charge No. 671C/2016, preferred against the applicant herein;
(b) The subject matter of Charge No.671C/2016 preferred against the applicant herein does not disclose a criminal offence in law for which the applicant could be put to trial;
© This Honourable Court has the jurisdiction to quash a charge where there is no disclosure of an offence and the trial would amount to an abuse of the process of the court;
(d) There is an inherent jurisdiction in this Honourable Court to prevent an abuse of its process;
(e). Charge No.671C/2016 as presently constituted is unconstitutional, null, void and cannot form the basis of any criminal trial.
(f) Any other or further ground (s) that the applicant may rely upon at the hearing of this application.”
On Monday September 19, 2016, when the case came up before His Worship, Chief Magistrate B.J. Ojikutu, at Court No.2, Ota, Ogun State, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa led several other lawyers for Mr Iroko, including Adeola Samuel-Ilori, Esq., Vincent Obetta, Esq., the latter who flew in from Enugu. Inspector E. Itaita appeared for the prosecution.
Mr. Adegboruwa informed the court that the defence had filed two applications to challenge the jurisdiction of the court, but that the prosecutor in court had declined service of the said applications, preferring rather that the motions be served on his office at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Eleweran, Abeokuta. Consequently, Mr Adegboruwa urged the court to suspend the trial since the defendant is challenging the jurisdiction of the court. Mr Adegboruwa also applied to the court to direct the prosecutor to furnish the defence with the proof of evidence for the case.
After hearing arguments from Mr. Adegboruwa, the court agreed to hear the applications challenging the jurisdiction of the court, which was then fixed for November 21, 2016. The court also directed the prosecutor to furnish the defence with the proof of evidence in the case, which was complied with immediately.
Mr Iroko has consistently asserted his right to give his dog any name suitable to him and that there is nothing to suggest that the name ‘Buhari’ was given to spite the President, Gen Muhammadu Buhari or indeed cause breach of public peace.