Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Absence of AGF stalls arraignment of alleged killers of Imo traditional ruler

The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, shifted the hearing in the matter until noon but there was still no representation by the AGF or his representative.

• April 15, 2024
Court room
Courtroom used to tell the story

The absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court stalled the arraignment of four suspects alleged to have kidnapped and killed Basil Njoku, the traditional ruler of the Amanze-Obowo autonomous community in Imo.

When the matter was called on Monday, the four suspects and their counsel were present in court but there was no representation from the office of the AGF, who had, on the last adjourned date, announced that he was taking over prosecution of the case.

The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, then shifted the hearing in the matter until noon but there was still no representation by the AGF or his representative.

The situation prompted the judge to invite the lawyers of the defendants into her chambers.

She then adjourned the matter until April 30 and ordered that a fresh hearing notice be served on the AGF.

The lead counsel to the suspects, Solomon Akuma (SAN) had applied that the case be dismissed, but the judge opted to give the AGF another chance to lead a diligent prosecution.

The four suspects are Jude Iheme, Chika Madukwe, Nwokorie Ejike, and Victor Obumneke.

The three counts earlier slammed against them had been increased to five in an amended charge.

On the last adjourned date, the AGF, represented by David Kaswe, had taken over prosecution of the case from the Inspector-General of Police, who initially filed the charge.

Mr Kaswe told the judge that the AGF invoked section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and section 105 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to take over the trial of the case.

Mr Iheme, 52 years old, of Amagwu Amanze Obowo Local Government Area of Imo and Mr Madukwe, 42, of Ndi-Uche Etiti Omuimo Local Government Area, also of Imo, were said to have killed the traditional ruler on December 17, 2022.

The suspects were accused of killing the monarch while he was coming from the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, after kidnapping and collecting a ransom of N4 million from his family.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/575/2024, Mr Iheme and Mr Madukwe, along with others said to be at large, were said to have conspired to commit felony, to wit, acts of terrorism, contrary to section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.

The other suspects were accused of failing to volunteer information at their disposal to security agencies, which could have led to the apprehension of other kidnappers, contrary to Section 16 of the same Terrorism Act.

The charge read in part, “That you, Nwokorie Ejike, 45 years ago and Victor Obumneke, 39 years, all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo, between June and August 2023, at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical  Squad, Abuja, during the police investigation of the offence of kidnapping and terrorism of  Eze Basil Njoku, conspired and brought false accusations with intent to cause Nwigwe Williams to be charged with kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku.

“You thereby committed an offence contrary to section 125 of the Criminal Code Act.

“That you, Nwokorie Ejike, 45 years and Victor Obumneke, 39 years, all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo, between June and August 2023, at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical Squad, Abuja, with intent to mislead the police investigators in the case of the kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, gave false information to the investigators that a drunk man informed you that Nwigwe Williams is responsible for the kidnap and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, knowing or having reason to know that information you gave to police investigators is false, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 125 of the Criminal Code Act 2004.

“That you, Nwokorie Ejike, 45 years ago and Victor Obumneke, 39 years, all of Ehume in Obowo LGA of Imo, between June and August 2023, at Zone 9 Police Headquarters at Umuahia and Special Tactical Squad, Abuja, during the police investigation of the offence of kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, conspired and brought false accusations with intent to cause Nwigwe Emeka Williams to be charged with kidnapping and terrorism of Eze Basil Njoku, you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 125 of the Criminal Code Act.”

(NAN) 

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