Bid by an Anambra State judge, Justice Ifeanyi Nweze, to quash a police legal opinion recommending him for criminal prosecution for forgery, has been thrown out by Justice N Odili of the Anambra State High Court.
The judge ruled that the suit lacked merit, noting that Justice Nweze’s prayers that the court should arrest the legal opinion would amount to interfering with police duty of investigation.
The legal opinion with reference CB: 3960/X/LEG/VOL.1186 dated April 11, 2016, signed by ACP Ochogwu Ogbe on behalf of the commissioner of police, Legal Section, Force CID, Alagbon, Lagos, had found Justice Nweze and his sister, Mrs Benedette Mbamalu, culpable for forgery of the will of his late father, Igwe Akum Nweze, who died in January, 2004.
The legal opinion was based on police investigation, which revealed that Justice Nweze allegedly used pre-signed letterheads to remove his elder brother, Dr Michael Nweze, as a director and signatory to their father’s companies, Nweze & Co Ltd, and Nweze & Sons Estates Ltd, to disinherit him. He also allegedly appointed both his own wife and sister, Benedette Mbamalu, in Michael’s place.
The probe also discovered that millions of naira and dollars had been fraudulently withdrawn through cash withdrawals, foreign remittances, sale of estate property as well as misappropriation of sale proceeds and rental income.
The police legal opinion had established that the suspects forged company resolutions using the pre-signed company letterheads prepared for their late father to help him in running the companies due to the distance from Onitsha to the United States where Dr Michael was living at that time.
The opinion, which was addressed to the commissioner of police, Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos, read in part, ‘’In the course of investigation, a will, dated August 25, 1993, is alleged to have been forged by pages B1 and B2. This will was signed by the testator, His Royal Highness, Igwe Akum Nweze and witnessed by one Chief Christopher Nnadi and Patrick Okenwa.
‘’The signature of Chief Nnadi (deceased) was suspected to have been forged while those of the witness and testator were believed to be genuine. The forensic document examiner, upon examination and comparison of the disputed signature found, ‘inherent features of disparity’ and therefore, concluded that the signature on the will is a forgery.
‘’I have painstakingly gone through the case file and it is my considered opinion that the offences of conspiracy to commit felony to wit forgery and forgery and obstructing the cause of justice have been established against the suspects (Justice Nweze and Benedette).”
Justice Nweze and Benedette Mbamalu, however, sought to nullify the legal opinion which affirmed that the offences of conspiracy to commit felony, forgery and obstruction of justice had been established against them by police investigation sequel to Dr Michael Nweze’s petition.
They also prayed for an injunction restraining the police from acting on the content of the legal opinion and an order directing the Inspector-General of Police and the CP, Anambra State, the second and third respondents respectively, to hand over the police case file to the Attorney-General of the Federation and AG, Anambra State.
But Judge Odili, in his ruling, dated January 21, 2021, dismissed the suit, saying it was lacking in merit. “It is my view that acceding to the applicants’ request to quash the legal opinion will amount to the court interfering with the police duty of investigation,’’ he held.
Sequel to his failed bid, Justice Nweze has filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal and another fundamental rights suit at an Onitsha high court in apparent abuse of court process.