The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Bwari, Abuja, on Wednesday, dismissed a suit seeking the removal of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, on the grounds of his alleged conviction in the United States of America.
The plaintiff, Patriotic Youth Organisation of Nigeria, had alleged that Omo-Agege failed to include the information that he was allegedly convicted by a court in California, USA, in his Form CF.001 which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission as a candidate in the last senatorial election.
Omo-Agege, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and INEC were the respondents to the suit.
Dismissing the suit, Justice Othman Musa, held that there was no evidence of criminal conviction of the Deputy Senate President as claimed by the plaintiff.
He held that the case cited by the plaintiff was a non-criminal trial by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry which was not a court of law.
He added that the case was a disciplinary matter which Omo-Agege challenged in the USA’s Supreme Court and won.
He noted that an indictment by a disciplinary panel did not equate to criminal proceedings, conviction referred to under Section 66 (1) and (2) of the Constitution.
He explained that a person could only be barred from holding public office for a period of 10 years if he or she was convicted and sentenced for a criminal offence by a Nigerian court not a foreign one.
Justice Musa added that from a judgment of a California court delivered on March 12, 1996, which was exhibited by Omo-Agege, the alleged case against the Deputy Senate President was dismissed.
“Dismissing the charge against the 1st defendant does not mean conviction. The 1st defendant has not been found guilty and has not been convicted,” the court held.
He also noted that accordingly, Omo-Agege was not under obligation to disclose the alleged conviction to INEC as a candidate for the last year’s election.
The judge awarded N1m against the plaintiff for filing frivolous suit against Omo-Agege.