Mr. John Idumange, an ex-general manager of Bayelsa state-owned Broadcasting Corporation, Glory FM, has been sent to Okaka Correctional Centre by a Magistrate Court Sitting in Yenagoa in the state capital.
He was arrested on the premises of a private radio station while honouring an invitation to discuss issues bordering on his accusations that the state government had embezzled a N3 billion Central Bank of Nigeria agricultural loan.
Meanwhile, SaharaReporters learnt that Mr. Idunmage was represented by his lawyer to defend him when he was arraigned at the Magistrate Court.
According to a summary of proceedings by counsel for the suspect, A.S. Arthur, made available to newsmen, Idumange was remanded over "charges which do not come within the powers of the court to remand being misdemeanors punishable to a term not exceeding two years."
Parts of the summary read: "In the matter of remand proceedings involving Dr John Idumange (suspect) at about 3:20 pm on the 11th day of March, 2021, the suspect, Dr. John Idumange's case was called, the said suspect entered into the dock, the learned magistrate, Mirinn-Johnson Tari, Esq. took appearances of counsel from both the prosecution and the defence.
"The prosecution brought to the attention of the learned magistrate of the application for remand proceedings of the suspect and prayed the court to remand the suspect pursuant to Section 266(9) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Bayelsa State, 2019, the prosecution informed the court that the nature of the charges is as follows: criminal defamation, breach of the peace and seditious publication.
"All charges which do not come within the powers of the court to remand being misdemeanors punishable to a term not exceeding two years. Upon the said application, learned counsel for the suspect, A. S. Arthur rose to inform the court that his appearance had been entered and that he is appearing for the suspect.
"The learned magistrate said what was before it was a remand proceeding and it is a one-way affair for which learned counsel for the suspect did not have a right of audience, (he) stated that the court entered his appearance in error.
"Whereupon learned counsel for the suspect still urged the court that there is nothing in the entire gamut of Section 266 ACJL Bayelsa State prohibiting his right of audience and that fair hearing is the threshold in every procedure and the said constitutional right ought not to be breached.
"The honourable magistrate still insisted that the learned counsel appearing for the suspect cannot appear and be heard and still insisted that the appearance was in error.
"Learned counsel for the suspect still went on to inform the learned magistrate that the matter for which the remand proceedings is being sought are offences which are misdemeanors with punishment not exceeding 2 years at most and is thus not seized of the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the application.
"Upon the insistence of the court that the suspect is not entitled to representation, this led to a walk-out of the defence team having sought and obtained the leave of court to so do. Thereupon the learned magistrate went ahead and ordered the remand of the suspect for 30 days at the first instance."