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A Chief Magistrates’ Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday remanded 32 suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in prison.
The suspects were arrested after they allegedly engaged in a bloody clash with security operatives during which a policeman was killed, his rifle taken away and three others injured.
The Tuesday afternoon attack at a military checkpoint in Obehie, Abia State moved to Oyigbo Junction in Port Harcourt where the policeman was shot dead. Three other policemen were injured and two Police vans burnt. Three police weapons and 68 live ammunition were carted away, among others.
The 32 suspects were arraigned for murder, armed robbery, unlawful assembly and treasonable felony, among others. The Magistrate declined jurisdiction and ordered that the case files be transmitted to the office of the state Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice.
Magistrate Amadi Amadi-Nna adjourned the matter indefinitely. Efforts by the accused lawyers to make the court turn down the case file for reassignment to a high court failed. The lawyers said the charge against their clients were trumped up, and urged that they be disregarded and the defendants be discharged.
They lashed the police for charging them before a court that lacks the powers to prosecute. The prosecution, led by Enoch Gorge, a Superintendent of Police, objected to the submission and urged the court to use its discretion in the charge. George told reporters later: “We are aware that the court lacks jurisdiction in the matter but we are here on remand proceeding.
“The defence counsel canvassed that the charge be struck out and the suspects discharged just like that but we objected on the grounds that the charges pressed on them are heavy.”
He assured the public that the Police would ensure that the seven-day deadline provided for by section 304 of Administration of Criminal Justice Administration to transmit the case file to the DPP would be kept to ensure that justice was done to both the defendants and the society.
The charge was not read out to the accused persons. The 23 suspects arrested over the Tuesday afternoon fracas were charged with treasonable Felony. The nine arrested for the murder of the policeman and on the second day were charged with murder, armed robbery, unlawful assembly among others.
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