Connect with us


Alleged Terrorism: Court Denies Gov Fubara’s Loyalists Bail



The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, denied bail to five persons accused of invading, vandalising, and burning down the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex.

The defendants, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod, are answering a seven-count terrorism charge that was preferred against them by the Inspector General of Police.

Police alleged that the defendants, in the wake of the political crisis that rocked the state in October last year, invaded the House of Assembly complex in a bid to frustrate an attempt to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

They were in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, equally accused of killing a Superintendent of Police, SP, Bako Agbashim, and the other five police informants at Ahoada community in Rivers State.

The names of three police informants who were allegedly killed by the defendants were given as Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu, and Saturday Edi.

The prosecution equally accused the defendants of using various cult groups, namely; Supreme Vikings Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland, and Greenland, to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.

Following the defendants’ plea of not guilty to the charge, the court, on January 25, remanded them in prison custody.

However, the defendant, through their lawyers, prayed the court to release them on bail pending the determination of the case against them.

They argued that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, they ought to be presumed innocent until their guilt is established.

The 3rd defendant, Oladele, equally prayed the court to release him on bail on health grounds.

Related News
Fubara swears in nine re-nominated commissioners, says ‘you were caught in crossfire’
Supreme Court affirms Fubara as Rivers Gov
Assembly threatens Fubara over correspondence
While opposing the bail applications, police lawyer, Mr. Simon Lough, SAN, argued that the defendants did not establish exceptional circumstances to warrant their release on bail.

The police contended that the charge against the defendants contained capital offences.

Rather, it urged the court to order an accelerated trial of the defendants.

In her ruling on Monday, trial Justice Bolaji Olajuwon agreed with the prosecution and dismissed the defendant’s request for bail.

The court subsequently adjourned the matter till Thursday for the commencement of the hearing.

Earlier, Justice Olajuwon refused an application that two of the defendants, Ezebalike and Oladele, filed to challenge the competence of the charge.

The defendants had insisted that the IGP lacked the locus standi to institute the action against them.

They urged the court to strike out the charge for constituting an abuse of the judicial process.

According to them, under sections 3 and 74 of the Terrorism Prevention & Prohibition Act, TPPA, 2022, only the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, was empowered to institute such action against anyone.

They maintained that security agencies like the police would only be responsible for the gathering of intelligence and investigation of such related cases.

It was equally the position of the defendants that, since the charge lacked competence, it stripped the court of the requisite jurisdiction to try them.

While dismissing the preliminary objection, Justice Olajuwon held that, in line with the provisions of Section 174 of the TPPA 2022, the power to institute a criminal proceeding was not exclusively vested in the AGF.

The court held that the charge was competent, adding that the police has the statutory powers to prosecute the defendants.

Likewise, the court struck out an application the former factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Edison Ehie, filed for the charge to be struck out.

Ehie, who is currently the Chief of Staff to Governor Fubara, was mentioned in some court of the charge.

The police had told the court that he was at large.

When the matter came up last Friday, Ehie, who had already been declared wanted by another judge of the court, through his lawyer, Mr. Oluwole Aladedoye, SAN, prayed the court to strike out any part of the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, where his name was mentioned.

Justice Olajuwon refused the application on the premise that Ehie was not a proper party before the court since he was not listed as one of the defendants in the matter.

The court held that the options open to Ehie was to either apply to be joined as one of the defendants in the charge or to surrender himself to security agencies to prove that he is not at large.