Treason: Court Remands 140 IPOB Members

315
IPOB

An Enugu East Magistrates Court presided by Magistrate A. N. Chioke, has remanded 140 members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) over an alleged treason.
The defendants, who were brought to the court in three 608 buses and one 18-seater bus, were said to have conspired to commit treasonable felony.
They were however, arraigned outside the court for about two hours as the court room could not accommodate them.
The offence was said to be punishable under Sect. 516 (A) of the Criminal Code CAP C38, Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 as applicable in Enugu State.
When the charge was read, the defendants pleaded not guilty.
One of the defence counsels, Osita Abalu, applied for their bail on the grounds that there was no evidence to back up the charge.
Mr Abalu said the prosecution had failed to provide probable cause why the defendants should be remanded in court in line with Sect. 234 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) of Enugu State, 2017.
He urged the court to exercise its powers under Section 225 of the same law and grant bail to the defendants.
Mr Abalu said though the offence for which the defendants were charged was punishable with life imprisonment, Section 88 of the ACJL, the Magistrates Court was qualified to grant bail.
He also urged the court to order the release of the four buses conveying the defendants to the venue of the burial.
Counsel to the 107 defendants, F.C. Okeke, told the court that it was ridiculous for the prosecution to claim that the defendants attempted to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Okeke said the defendants were arrested on their way to a burial and wondered how that could translate to over throwing the government.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is in Abuja, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is in Enugu while the defendants were arrested in Nsukka,” he said.
The counsel described the charge as trumped-up and meant to deny the defendants of their fundamental rights.
Mr Okeke said the prosecution deliberately brought the matter to the Magistrates Court just to punish them.
“An accused person cannot be brought to a court when such court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter just to punish them.