The Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil, Mr Ifeanyi Uba, has been in detention since May 6 when he was arrested by officials of the Department of State Services (DSS).

The DSS had put forward allegations bordering on the 'refusal to remit 11 billion Naira realised from the sales of petroleum products stored in his facility by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)'. 

Nigeria’s law only allows 24 hours’ detention before the suspect is charged, but that law has been ignored.

According to the Lagos Court, the DSS arrested Ubah in Lagos, flew the him to Abuja and filed a case in a court there, requesting that it should be allowed to detain the accused for a specific number of days.

The court has accused the DSS of lying, when it claimed that Mr Ubah was arrested in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Mr Ubah’s lawyers claim they had (24 hours after he was arrested and still detained) filed a case of fundamental rights abuse in a Lagos Court. They claim the Lagos Court has jurisdiction to handle the case since the arrest was made in Lagos.

While the case of fundamental rights abuse was being heard in Lagos on Thursday by a High Court, another High Court in the Federal Capital Territory was sitting on the request by DSS to detain Mr Ubah.

The Lagos Court in its ruling ordered the DSS to release Mr Ubah within 48 hours and also asked the security outfit to file a case against the accused.

On the other side, the Abuja Court ruled in favour of the DSS, granting their request to detain Mr Ubah for another 14 days.

Are The Two Courts Right?

After the ruling, Bounce News queried the legality of the courts’ decisions and a lawyer, Tomi Vincent, explained why the two court rulings were given.

He says the legality of the rulings depends on the parameters of the cases before the court.   

“Sometimes it happens that the parameters of approaching the court are quite different even though it involves one person. The legal angles might be different.

“If you are asking for enforcement of fundamental human rights in Lagos and then another person in Abuja is asking for the power to extend the accused detention, the court can hear the two cases,” he said.

The lawyer, however, stressed that having two cases in that manner most times amounts to abuse of court process.

“What happens is that when a court has been approached, all other parties should surrender their legal interest to that court. But what we have is a situation where somebody is trying to abuse the court process which I can also put at the backyard of the judiciary.

“As it is, if the parameters are different, the latter one will stand,” he stressed, giving an indication that the ruling of the Abuja court which came after the ruling of the Lagos Court subsists.

Mr Vincent also stressed that an aggrieved party in the case could file a case against the other party for contempt.

“It is when the party files a case for contempt that the court will handle the matter, because the courtroom is open to everyone. Until someone approaches the court for justice the two cases could be handled,” the lawyer further explained.

He had in a subtle way blamed the judiciary for the two cases filed at different courts that bare marks of abuse of the court process.

Bounce News highlights that a situation where individuals abuse court process casts aspersion on the strength of the judiciary and also highlights the extent of needed reforms.

The court is open to all but that should not make the court a place of justice that is prone to abuse.

Why is the system not automated and synchronised that whenever a case is filed in any court, it registers in a central system that every other court will have access to and cross check whenever a new case is brought before it?

The needed reforms should be implemented if the nation must go beyond having more awaiting trial suspects in prison than convicts due to time wasted on cases that should not have been entertained in any court.