The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Tuesday, took over trial of the erstwhile General Superintendent of Assemblies of God Church, Reverend Paul Emeka.
The cleric was alleged to have forged a Professorial Certificate of University of Derby, Derbyshire, England.
The AGF applied and took over prosecution of the matter which is pending before an Abuja Upper Area Court at Gudu.
Malami, SAN, predicated the application he moved through a lawyer in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. I. Charles Okoli, on section 106 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015 and section 174 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The trial of the defendant followed a direct criminal complaint the Incorporated Trustees of the Assembles of God Nigeria filed against him pursuant to sections 88(1) and 90 of the ACJA.
The charge bordered on forgery and use of forged document.
Specifically, the Church which said it was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, told the court that the defendant was one of its trustees as at 2012 but was removed on April 30, 2015.
According to the First Information Report, FIR, before the court, “the defendant presented himself to the complainant as a Professor from University of Derby, Derbyshire, England.
“That based on the above, he was made one of the Trustees of the complainant. Sometime in January 2015, the complainant upon investigation found out that the defendant forged the professorial certificate he presented to the complainant.
“Attached as annexes TAGN 3a and TAGN 3b respectively are a letter from the University of Derby, Derbyshire, England; and a disclaimer letter from the University of Derby, England from where he claimed to have received the professorship title.
“The complainant being a renowned church that commit afford to harbor such criminal Act, removed the defendant as one of their trustees and reported the matter to the Nigeria Police for investigation and subsequent prosecution.
“The defendant was invited by the Nigeria Police at Force Headquarters Abuja and he insisted that he is a professor and presented the said forged certificate to the police, he was granted administrative bail by the police”.
Police had since concluded investigation into the matter, an action that necessitated the AGF’s move to prosecute the matter.
Meanwhile, counsel to the defendant, Mr. J.U. Ajii, on Tuesday, opposed AGF’s bid to prosecute the case, even as urged the court to suspend further proceeding on the matter.
Ajii prayed the Upper Area Court judge, Alhaji Umar Kagarko, to stay the proceeding and await the determination of a motion his client filed before an Abuja High Court which he said has appellation jurisdiction over the lower court.
He argued that the AGF could only take over the matter after the high court had decided on the motion.
Consequently, the Judge, Kagarko, adjourned the matter till September 19 for the AGF and counsel to the defendant to address the court on the issue.