140 members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) have been ordered by Magistrate A. N. Chioke of the Enugu East Magistrates Court to be kept in prison for an alleged treasonable felony offence.
The offence is punishable under Sect. 516 (A) of the Criminal Code CAP C38, Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 as applicable in Enugu State.
The Magistrate answered the prayer of Paschal Nwachukwu, prosecuting counsel, who asked the court to remand the defendants in prison.
However pleading not guilty, Osita Abalu, one of defense counsels said the prosecutor lacks evidence to back up the case and keep his client in prison.
He noted that Sect. 234 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) of Enugu State, 2017 demanded that a reason must be provided before a defendant must be kept in prison.
He said that 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.”
Similarly, F.C. Okeke, counsel to the 107 defendants, labeled the charges as trumped up while praying the court to respect the fundamental rights of the defendants by granting them bail.
Okeke also said the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case and the Magistarte should thereby order their bail.
Magistrate Chioke, in her ruling, stated that the charges are trumped while admitting that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter.
“The only document against them before the court is the charge sheet. This looks to me like a trumped up charge.
“The charge the defendants are remanded for is treasonable but the prosecution did not list any exhibit of weapon of warfare against them,” she said.
She, however, ordered that the defendants be remanded while the defense team make an application in the appropriate court.