A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa on Thursday adjourned ruling to April 22 on whether or not the Department of State Services (DSS) has prosecutorial powers in cyber-stalking cases.
The adjournment followed resumption of trial in the case of a teenage girl who allegedly circulated nude video of a retired Bayelsa Permanent Secretary on the social media.
The DSS arraigned the teenager on October 18, 2021 on a one-count charge of cyber-stalking.
According to the prosecution, the defendant engaged in cyber-stalking by circulating the retiree’s nude picture in a WhatsApp chat group after she tried to blackmail him into paying her N15 million.
The retired permanent secretary, a witness for the DSS had earlier told the court that the teenager made a nude video of him when they had intercourse at a hotel in Yenagoa in August 2021.
At Thursday’s session, 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.
Andrew, a former Attorney-General in Bayelsa said he challenged 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 argued that the DSS was set up as a national security protection agency and not a law enforcement agency.
Andrew submitted that if the DSS did not have the powers of prosecution in its enabling Act, it could not assume such powers by itself and urged the court to strike out the case.
In his argument, prosecuting counsel, Mr Victor 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.
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 had competently prosecuted many cases successfully and secured convictions and urged the court to dismiss Andrew’s application and proceed with the prosecution.
The trial judge, Justice Isa Ndahen, asked Andrew and Uchendu to adopt their applications and responses before the court and adjourned the case till April 22 for ruling on the prosecutorial application.
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