High Court Frees Thai after Over 2 Years 7 Months in Kano Prison
The appellate division of Kano State High Court on Thursday gave an order for the discharge of a Thailand national, Pornpen Ditpadung, setting aside the ruling of the Chief Magistrate’s Court in a case that has lasted for two years.
The court, which quorum consisted of the Chief Judge of Kano State, Justice Nura Sagir Umar (presiding) and Justice Nasiru Saminu, in Case No K/61CA/2020 said “Upon reading of record of proceedings filed herein and after hearing Mr. Usman Umar Fari Esq. counsel for the Applicant and Mr. Khalifa A. Hashim (State Counsel) for the Respondent… It is hereby ordered that: The ruling of the Chief Magistrate’s Court No 18 Zungeru Road, presided over by His Worship Muhammad Idris (as he then was) on the 28th day of January, 2020 is hereby set aside.
“The Appellant is hereby discharged”, the court said in the order.
Her counsel, Usman Umar Fari, had told the court that Ditpadung has remained in prison custody ever since she was arrested on the 30th day of April 2018 for the alleged offences of cheating and criminal breach of trust, both of which he said the complainants failed to establish prima facie cases for.
He submitted in his grounds of appeal that the lower court erred in Law when it overruled the appellant on her opposition to the court’s jurisdiction when no element of the offences she was charged with occurred in Kano State.
He also said the lower court erred in Law when it overruled the applicant’s no-case submission on the offence of Criminal Breach of Trust and held that she had a case to answer.
He argued that the civil contract which formed the basis of her criminal charges for the two offences were signed in Thailand. While the goods supplied to the appellant were purchased from Taraba and Ondo states before they were transported to the port for shipping to Thailand.
He said she was arrested in Lagos and brought to Kano for prosecution, a development he insisted did not accord with the extant Laws in Nigeria.
He also pointed out to the court that the relationship between the nominal complainant and the defendant was purely business-oriented, saying all the prosecution witnesses testified to the commercial nature of the transactions, which were still subsisting as they have not been cancelled.
Fari however told Nigerian Sketch that he had no doubt in his mind that the law was on his side in the appeal, so he was not surprised by the court’s ruling.
“But I’m impressed by the courage exhibited by the judges in the appeal for three reasons: one, the Magistrate who presided over the case at the lower court is now a High Court judge. Also, the counsel who prosecuted the case at the lower court is now a High Court judge but that did not prevent the judges from doing what the law said
“Two, the money involved is huge but quantum of money involved did not derail them from looking strictly at the law.
“Three, the nominal complainant, being a Nigerian suing on behalf of a Nigerian company, is Kano-based, and he lodged his complaint against a foreigner and her foreign company. The judges were not swayed by anything other than the law in reaching their decision. I must say that this is commendable. It gives one the good feeling that the courts can be truly impartial”, he said.
He said they are now considering two options.
“Either to file a case for malicious prosecution or a suit for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights, having been in detention for two years and seven months on a purely civil issue”, he explained.