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Cyril Ndifon: Court refuses to hear UNICAL professor’s bail plea as ICPC investigator testifies

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, declined to hear bail applications of Professor Cyril Ndifon, the suspended Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, and his co-defendant, Sunny Anyanwu.

Justice James Omotosho held that the bail applications of the duo would be taken after the testimony of the star witness, identified as TKJ, had been taken in order to protect her in the course of the trial, NAN reports

The development followed the oral application by the defence counsel, Joe Agi, SAN, that the bail plea of his clients be taken shortly after Lucy-Ogechi Chima, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)’s investigator, was discharged from the witness box.

“I must take the statement of the victim witness first before considering bail for the defendants so that there won’t be interference.

“Even if I give (admit them to bail), what if they are unable to meet the conditions?

“But left to me, I prefer an accelerated hearing in the matter so we can finish it in seven days,” Justice Omotosho said

The judge subsequently adjourned the matter until Thursday for continuation of trial.

Recall that Ndifon was, on Jan. 25, re-arraigned alongside Anyanwu on an amended four-count charge bordering on alleged sexual harassment and attempt to perverse the cause of justice.

Anyanwu, who is one of the lawyers in the defence, was joined in the amended charge filed on Jan. 22 by the ICPC on allegation that he called one of the prosecution witnesses on her mobile telephone during the pendency of the charge against Ndifon to threatened her.

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The representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) were in court to eat h briefs for their associations.

Besides, other women groups like Nigerian League of Women Voters, Womanifesto, among others, also sent representatives to the court.

Justice Omotosho earlier stood down the matter to allow the court clear other cases fixed for the day.
Ater the court reconvened, the judge warned newsmen against publishing the name or photograph of the star witness who was alleged to have been threatened.

“I want us to limit what we publish generally. Let us go within the ambit of the law to protect the witness,” he said.

He also warned against unguided publication against the defendants “because they are still presume innocent.”

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Justice Omotosho then made an order that journalists must not reveal the identity of the witness.

“In order to protect the dignity of the alleged victim, I hereby made an order that the identity of the victims shall not be maintained.

“For the purpose of this trial, the name of the victim shall be called TKJ,” he declared.

Meanwhile, while giving her testimony, the ICPC investigator said a forensic analysis done on Ndifon’s phone revealed that there were several nude pictures from many contacts.

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Chima, who was led in evidence by the co..ission’s lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, claimed that a diploma student (name withheld based on the order of court to protect the victim) of the university sent pornographic photographs of herself to him through his mobile telephone at different times.

“We saw so many nude photos of so many contacts, including the contact of TKJ.

“TJk was of particular interest to the investigation because TJk’s case is a case we observed that nude pictures were requested by the 1st defendant as currency for admission for the diploma class, transiting to the LLB Class.

“We sought to confront the 1st defendant with our findings and he refused to give his statement.
“We left him and decided to go on a fact-finding mission to Calabar where we interacted with a student with the aid of a lecturer who identified him for the team,” Chima, the 1st prosecution witness, said.

She added that the 2nd defendant, a lawyer, called the victim witness to shun the ICPC’s invitation.
Chima said, “The victim witness told us that she received a strange call from a lawyer and friend of the 1st defendant who told her not to honour the invitation of the ICPC. We confronted him and he denied it.

“He also made a statement denying he called the victim witness.

“But a forensic report on the call log and other information from the network provider showed the contrary. He actually called the victim witness.
“Being a suspect in the matter we retrieve his phone from him. He signed a consent form for the retrieval of his phone.

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“The forensic unit and response from the service provider revealed that the 2nd defendant’s call to our witness known as TKJ was for 679 seconds.
“It also revealed that TKJ’s number was forwarded by the 1st defendant to the 2nd defendant. “

She told the court that while the phones of the first and second defendants were with the commission, Ndifon approached his service providers for a SIM swap, claiming his phone was missing.

She alleged that Ndifon did that to temper with the commission’s investigation.

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The PW1 also informed the court that while the allegation of sexual harassment had been concluded, that of financial misappropriation was ongoing.

She said, “My lord, we have an investigation ongoing against him on the financial impropriety allegation while we have concluded that on sexual harassment. “

Documents used during the course of her investigation were tendered by the prosecution counsel and they were admitted as evidence by the trial judge.

The PW1 was also cross-examined by the defence counsel before the witness was discharged from the witness box and matter adjourned until Thursday

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