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Wednesday, 6 July 2016



ENUGU-The case of 36 IPOB brethren arrested along with their six tricycles on 24th of April, 2016, after convening a general family meeting at Ngwo, came up for hearing on 1st July 2016, before the Magistrate Court sitting in Enugu state.
The case between the Enugu State Commissioner of Police(CP) and the 36 defendants who are answering criminal charges bordering on being a part or member of an unlawful society. The case and the defendants were called up by the court clerk at about 10:40am, and the Magistrate was already seated after presiding over the first case.

There was a little moment of an altercation between the Magistrate and the defending lawyer when the 8th defendant identified as Mr. Chukwunonye Egbuagba failed to answer or appear in person after the court clerk called out his name. The Magistrate asked the defense counsel to the 36 accused, Barrister Nicholas C. Egbonwonu about the whereabouts of one of his clients and he answered: “My lord, I believe he was outside the court premises before our case was called upon, I believe he’ll be back here in a moment.”

When the Prosecution Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, Barrister Emmanuel Ugwu was called upon to present his case, he tendered an apology to the court for his absence during the previous court session of 25th May 2016, saying that he attended a promotion his words, “My lord, please pardon me for not appearing during the last sitting, I had to go for a promotion exam which coincidentally was fixed that same day.”

However, when asked to produce the Enugu state Attorney General’s consent declaring IPOB as an unlawful society, the Prosecutor fumble again, explaining that the state AG is yet to grant his request. “The consent is not available now but we’ve transmitted the file to the AG for him to give the consent and it has not been transmitted back to the office,” he said.

He thereafter prayed the Court to grant him more time to secure the consent.
At this juncture, the 8th defendant, Chukwunonye Egbuagba stepped inside the Court and the Magistrate was immediately communicated about his arrival by the defence lawyer.

Speaking to Egbuagba, the Magistrate ordered him to come closer and the following questions ensued: “Your name?”, “Do you have any ID card?”, “Do you know you have a case today?” Dishing out rulings, the Magistrate said to Egbuagba and his co-defendants; “If on the next adjournment date or throughout this trial anyone of you fails to appear in court, I’ll be forced to take a hard decision against you. I’ll issue a bench warrant on you.”

Turning to the Police Prosecutor, she threatened to strike out the case if by the next sitting he fails to produce the consent. “If you don’t bring the consent on the next adjourned date, I’ll strike out the case. You don’t do the right thing until the next adjournment date draws closer. I cannot continue with this case if you fail to do the needful”, the magistrate concluded. 
The Magistrate after these rulings subsequently adjourned the trial to continue on 12th August 2016.

Speaking to Chukwuemeka Chimerue of BIAFRA WRITERS shortly after the adjournment, the defending counsel Barrister Egbonwonu stated that the Prosecution has no genuine case against the accused persons.
He said: “As you can see from what happened in court today, It’s one of the facts to show that they don’t have any case, they don’t have any evidence to sustain the trump up charges pressed against the innocent citizens of this country.

“But the Court being a court of law and justice and in accordance with the rule of fair hearing and adequate time for them to prepare for their defense, has given them one more chance to come before this court to prove their case, failure of which the court will not have any other thing to do than to strike out the case.”

Continuing, he said: “the court in doing this has given them a very long adjournment which is 12th of August, for them to do all the necessaries with a specific order that if they fail in satisfying any of the requirements by submitting the relevant documents, the court will not have any other option than to set aside the case.”

When asked to give details about the requirements they were asked to produce, he said: “Well, first of all, they(accused persons) were charged with belonging to an unlawful society and the conditions for you to do before you bring such charges against anyone, against any person in Nigeria, you can’t proceed if the Attorney General of the state does not give his consent for you to proceed, because it is the state that categorizes any society of being unlawful and to the best of my knowledge and available legislations, IPOB is not an unlawful society.

“So, they have sent the file for the Attorney General of Enugu state to give his consent and I know the AG knows that IPOB is not an unlawful society, so the consent is not going to come because two things are involved, it is either the AG gives consent for them to proceed or the AG himself appears in person which I know they don’t have any case, so he wouldn’t come for this case, and hopefully by the next adjourned date, the case would be struck out.”

On the absence of one of the defendants when the trial resumed he said: “I have told them that they’re facing a criminal case. You ought to be present any day the court proceedings are holding, failure of which the court will issue a bench warrant for arrest because they would presume that you have jumped bail.

“A bench warrant to arrest you and keep you in prison and you’ll be coming from prison throughout the trial. So that means if the case will last for the next one or two years, you’ll be remanded in prison and no bail will be granted to you because you abused the first court order.

“I have always warned them of the enormity of being absent, but this one Chukwunonye Egbuagba, I don’t know him in person but I have communicated to their members and their leaders to make sure all of them are present and on time, but thank God, mercifully, the Court did not issue that bench warrant but court left him with a very strict warning that if on the next adjourned date, any of them fails to be present, the court will not hesitate to issue a bench warrant against him or her, and the person will be coming from prison to stand his trial.”

From our correspondent, Chukwuemeka Chimerue.
Reporting from the Magistrate Court, Enugu state.
Published By IkeChukwu NwaOrisa


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