26 January 2011

Nigeria: Ex-Ebonyi LG Boss, Three Others Face Murder Case

Abakaliki — Four persons including the former Coordinator of Ikwo South Development Centre in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have been arraigned before an Abakaliki Magistrate Court over the death of Ndubisi Okere, and gun attack on three others.

The accused persons, Chief Titus Nkoshi, the coordinator, Johnson Nwiteshi, Sunday Nkoshi and Felix Nwafor, are standing trial on a three-count charge of conspiracy and unlawfully killing of Okere on January 15, 2011 at Amagu Ikwo.

Mr. Thomas Onyibe, a Police Inspector and Chief Prosecutor told the court that the accused persons committed the offence punishable under Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap 33, Vol.1, Laws of Ebonyi State 2009.

Mr. Uchenna Mpiatu, counsel to the accused persons, had earlier prayed the court to strike out the earlier charges brought against his clients on the ground that the prosecutors were inappropriately prepared having lumped up charges against his clients when the matters were different and ought to have been separated.

Mr. Job Orude, the presiding magistrate, granted the prayer and ordered that the charges be returned to the state Directorate for Public Prosecution for appropriate preparation and presentation.

When the trial resumed after the amendment of the charges, the accused persons pleaded not guilty to all charges after they were read to them in Igbo language.

Orude thereafter ruled that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case, while objecting to the bail application filed by the counsel to the accused persons. "The accused persons shall be remanded at the Abakaliki Prisons as their case files and other relevant documents be forwarded to the office of the Attorney General of the state within 14 days," he ruled.

The calamity that engulfed the area since January 15, 2011 and which left Okere dead and three others sustaining serious gun shot wounds, had made several indigenes to flee for fear of continued attack by gun men.

Mr. Celestine Igberi, chairman of the council, which also is the home council of the state governor, had prior to the arraignment of the accused said that he advised members of the community who were targets of the attack to leave till normalcy returns for their safety. "As the chief security officer of the council, I invited the police to forestall further breakdown of law and order in the area", he said.

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