Organ Harvesting: FCT Court Voids Detention Order On Medical Director

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Justice Hamza Muazu the High Court of the Federal Capital (FCT) has set aside an order by a Magistrate Court presided by Mohammed Abba Bello on January 22, 2024, for the detention of the medical director of Alliance Hospital Abuja, Dr Christopher Otabor, for 14 days, over alleged organ harvest.
Justice Muazu voided the order while ruling on a motion on notice marked MN/01/2024, drawn from suit no. CV/W2ZZ/37/2024, between the Federal Government and Dr Christopher Otabor.
Magistrate Bello and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) are 1st and 2nd respondents respectively in the motion.
Otabor’s motion sought for a judicial review of the January 22, order of the Magistrate court which had ordered NAPTIP to detain him for 14 days.
Chidi Dimgba, lawyer to Otabor had argued that the Magistrate made the order in excess of jurisdiction in violation of section 294 of Administration of Criminal Justice ACT 2015, which limits powers of Magistrate to grant remand order.
Delivering ruling, the Justice Muazu discountenanced all the issues canvassed by NAPTIP’s lawyer in opposition to the motion by Dr Otabor for judicial review of the Magistrate court order.
The Judge stated that after reviewing the procedure that led to the detention order, it did not believe that the Magistrate court was right in its decision as it acted in excess of its jurisdiction.
Justice Muazu noted that the Magistrate failed to consider the issue of bail, stressing that an allegation of organ harvesting is a bailable offence.
“The remand order is hereby quashed. Applicant is to be released pending arraignment if any, the court ordered.
Otabor had approached the High court for an order certiorari quashing the order for his detention as well as for a declaration that his detention by NAPTIP in its custody pursuant to the order made by the Magistrate court on January 22, was unlawful.
He had informed the court that on 21st January, 2024, he visited NAPTIP office based on its invitation to give some clarifications on their investigation.
Otabor told the Court that he arrived at NAPTIP office before noon and was taken to a room where he was interrogated by its officers.
“I responded to all the questions I was asked satisfactorily. At about 5pm after I had been subjected to a barrage of interrogation, I was offered bail on the condition that I have a reliable surety of level 17 in the Civil Service of the Federation.
“I was able to contact someone of Level 17 in the Civil Service of the Federation who presented himself to stand surety for me but 2nd respondent’s officers complained that it was late to process the surety and they detained me at their address located at Zone 5, Plot 2028 Dalaba St, Wuse, Abuja.
“At about noon the next day, 22nd January 2024, the surety was present and he was already going through the process of getting the bail perfected when the officers of the 2nd respondent showed me a court order granted by the 1st respondent on 22nd of January 2024 to remand me for 14 days.
“And with the order, I was detained by the 2nd respondent. I looked at the order and observed that the 1st respondent made the following order pending the conclusion of the investigation being carried out by NAPTIP.
He said the Magistrate ordered that “The suspect (respondent) shall be brought before this court at the next adjourned date this matter is set down for hearing.
“Where there is probable cause to extend the remand order, the applicant shall take the necessary step in line with Section 269(2) of ACJA 2015.
“Upon failure of the applicant to satisfy the condition stated under Section 269(2) of ACJA 2015, or the bring the Respondent at the next adjourned date, this court shall made necessary order that fit the circumstance of the case” Dr Otabor quoted the Magistrate as saying in his order.
However, the medical doctor expressed worry that he was not even taken to court before the order to detain him was made.
“I was shocked because I was not brought before any court including the said Magistrate court where the 1st respondent (Magistrate) sat to grant the order.
“The **2nd respondent did not also offer me any reason they decided to obtain the order to remand me.
“I was kept in the detention of the 2nd respondent (NAPTIP) through the night of 22nd January 2024 till 24th January 2024 based on the order.
“All through the period, I was not asked any question or interrogated by officers of the 2nd respondent,” Otabor averred in an affidavit in support of his motion for judicial review.
Justice Muazu had on January 24, granted an ex-parte application by Otabor, seeking leave for judicial review of the order made by Magistrate Mohammed Abba Bello, on January 22.



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