[From CHRIS EZE, Yenagoa]
Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Thursday adjourned hearing in the trial of a teenage girl facing trial for allegedly circulating nude video of a retired Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa, Dr. Walton Liverpool.
Oracle Today recalls that the Department of State Services (DSS) had on Oct. 18, 2021 arraigned a teenage girl before the court on a one count charge of cyber-stalking.
The prosecution had argued that the defendant engaged in cyber-stalking by circulating the retiree’s nude picture on a Whatspp group after she tried to blackmail the retired Perm Sec into paying her N15 million.
The retired Permanent Secretary who is a witness for the DSS following a petition he submitted to DSS had earlier told the court that the teenager made a nude video of him when they had sex at a hotel in Yenagoa in August 2021.
In his testimony before the court in November last year, Liverpool had lamented that he was traumatized by the experience and told his alleged blackmailers that he could not raise the money they demanded and hence his nude video was exposed on social media networks.
When the case was mentioned, the Counsel to the teenage girl, Mr. Andrew Arthur told the court that he had filed a Notice of objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the charge.
The trial judge, Justice Isa Ndahen asked Andrew and Prosecuting Counsel Mr. Victor Uchendu to adopt their application and responses before the court.
Andrew, a former Attorney-General in Bayelsa said that he was challenging the jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that the DSS under its establishment Act and the National Security Agencies Act lacks prosecuting powers.
He said that DSS was set up as a National Security protection agency and not a law enforcement agency.
Andrew further argued that if the DSS does not have the powers of prosecution in its enabling Act, it cannot assume such powers by itself and urged the court to strike out the case.
However, Uchendu contended that the DSS under the Cybercrimes Prevention and Prohibition Act 2015 was listed as one of the relevant law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders under the Act.
He maintained that DSS was indeed a law enforcement agency with prosecuting powers bestowed on it by the Cybercrimes Prevention and Prohibition Act 2015 under which the suspect is being prosecuted.
Uchendu told the court that DSS has competently prosecuted several cases successfully and secured convictions and urged the court to dismiss the application and proceed with the prosecution.
After hearing from the two counsels, the judge adjourned the case until April 22, 2022 for ruling on the application.