A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday remanded some loyalists of the River State governor for their alleged involvement in the explosion that rocked and razed the Rivers State Assembly complex.
An explosion had rocked the complex of the state Assembly amid alleged moves by some lawmakers to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara on October 30, 2023.
Some loyalists of the governor were said to have been behind the incident.
No fewer than five of them were arraigned on Thursday before Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
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They are Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod.
In the 7 charges, the defendants were accused of committing alleged terrorism offences by invading, vandalising and burning down Rivers State House of Assembly during the wake of the political crisis that rocked Port Harcourt in October last year.
They were also accused of killing a Superintendent of Police, Bako Agbashim, and five police informants in the Ahoada community of the state.
The police informants alleged to have been killed are Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu, and Saturday Edi.
They are to remain in prison custody till February 2 when their respective bail applications will be determined by the Judge.
They were also accused of using various cult groups, namely- Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland, and Greenland to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.
They all pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
Although the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, was not listed in the 7 counts terrorism charges, he was however represented in court by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Oluwole Aladedoyin, on the ground that his name featured prominently in the alleged offences.
He challenged the allegations that he was at large alongside other suspects.
Justice Olajuwon did not however allow further arguments on the ground that he was not yet a defendant in the charges.
Shortly after the arraignment, the leader of the prosecuting team, Audu Garba, applied for a date for a full-blown trial of the defendants.
However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Lukman Fagbemi, who stood for Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Prince Lukman Oladele who are 1st and 2nd defendants, sought to move applications for their bail on the ground that they have been in police custody since last year.
The government lawyer, Audu Garba, vehemently opposed the reason that he had just been served with the bail applications and needed time to study them and file a counter affidavit.
Justice Olajuwon agreed with the prosecution lawyer that the bail applications were not ripe for hearing and fixed February 2 for the hearing of all bail applications.
Pending hearing and determination of the bail applications, the judge ordered that the five defendants be taken to Kuje Prison on remand and be returned to court on the adjourned date.
“The defendants are hereby remanded pending the hearing and determination of the bail applications,” he said.
Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.
Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.
Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.
Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.
He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,
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“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.
“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.
“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”
NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS
The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.
The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.
The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.
Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.
The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.
However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.
“We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.
“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.
“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.
“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.
Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.
“We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.
“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.
“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.
VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Begs Nigerians
A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu’s administration, emphasizing that it’s premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this stage.
Gowon spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Tinubu on Wednesday.
The former Head of State, who noted that he was visiting Tinubu for the first time after the latter’s inauguration, disclosed that discussions revolved around matters concerning peace and security within the West African sub-region.
Responding to inquiries about his advice to the President regarding the prevailing national circumstances, Gowon acknowledged the existing challenges but stressed that it’s too early to anticipate perfection.
He said, “I was telling him that there’s no Nigerian leader that can get there, that will not get all of these, all that is being said about him. But certainly, there is no doubt about all that one has heard and seen from various media. I think the government is trying its best to deal with the various problems of the country.
“But with Nigerians, don’t worry, you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know. I think all one can say to Nigerians is that they have to give the President time to get things done and it is too early to sort of say a perfect result will be achieved. That is my opinion.
“At least, if I remembered, I was told that I was too slow, fighting the war and that probably Nigeria would not make it and we should seek for discussion. Well, did we do it or not? They probably did not know the problem there on the ground there.”
VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Urges Nigerians
A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu's administration, emphasizing that it's premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this… pic.twitter.com/14oXWyQ9Ze
— Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) February 21, 2024
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