Court Affirms IGP’S terrorism charges against Fubara’s 5 loyalists.
By Kayode Lawal, Abuja.
February 02, 2024
The five loyalists of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State charged with terrorism offences on Friday in Abuja suffered a setback in the quest to stop the Inspector General of Police IGP from proceeding with their prosecution on terrorism offences.
Their application seeking to stop the IGP on the ground that they can only be put on trial on terrorism charges by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice was dismissed by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday.
Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon in a ruling on their preliminary objections raised against the IGP held that the defendants were wrong in their claims that only the AGF can put them on trial.
Justice Olajuwon said that the law especially sections 3, 63 and 74 of Terrorism Prevention Act were clear to the effect that while the AGF has Constitutional.power to strengthen the terrorism prevention law, the same sections did not confer the exclusive rights to prosecute on the AGF.
The Judge said that while section 5 of the Terrorism Prevention Act confers responsibility of gathering intelligence and investigation on police, the same section donated rights to Police to initiate criminal charges in a competent court of jurisdiction.
Specifically, Justice Olajuwon held that while the AGF under section 174 of the 1999 Constitution can lawfully take over, continue or terminate any initiated criminal charges, such right did not make trial an exclusive rights of the AGF.
“From the cursory look at all the authorities cited by lawyers for and against the IGP rights to initiate the instant criminal proceedings, one thing is clear and clearly too, that police can rightly initiate criminal charges including terrorism charges”.
The Judge said that the preliminary objections to the trial by the defendants was incompetent, lacking in merit and subsequently dismissed them.
The five defendants charged with terrorism offences are Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod.
Meanwhile, Justice Olajuwon has fixed Monday, February 5 for ruling in their respective bail applications.
The Judge fixed the date after taking arguments from lawyers from police led by Simon Lough, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Lukman Fagbemi SAN who stood for the 1st and 2nd defendants in the matter among others.
Justice Olajuwon ordered that the five defendants be returned to Kuje Prison in Abuja pending the decision of the Court to allow them on bail or not.
The five defendants are accused of committing the alleged terrorism offences during the wake of political upheaval that rocked Port Harcourt in October last year.
In the charges against them marked FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun is named as the complainant.
Apart from allegedly burning down the State House of Assembly, some of them were said to have killed a Superintendent of Police, (SP) Bako Agbashim and five police informants at Ahoada community of the state.
The police informants said to have been killed are Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu and Saturday Edi.
They were also accused of using various cult groups, namely- Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland and Greenland to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.
Specifically, they are alleged to have on October 29, 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt conspired to commit acts of terrorism by wilful destruction of public properties by invading, attacking, destroying and burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly, an offence punishable under section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
Part of the charges read, “That you, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, business man of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert conspired together to commit felony to wit: acts of terrorism by wilful destruction of public properties by invading, attacking, destroying and burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 26 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
“That you Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, business man of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert and armed with dynamite, iron rods, lighters and other offensive weapons willfully and maliciously invaded, attacked and set fire on the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.