An Abia State High Court, sitting in Umuahia, has discharged and acquitted three indigenes of the state who were charged by the Nigerian police for terrorism, armed robbery, and conspiracy among others.
The discharged and acquitted Abia residents – David Onyema, Uche Adiele, and Victor Isaiah – had been unjustly arrested on February 18, 2021, by overzealous Nigerian police in Umuahia, Abia State and labelled members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
They were subsequently arraigned before Justice Chido Nwakanma of court D on five count charge bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, unlawful possession of firearm and terrorism related offences.
The offences and punishments, the police told the court are stipulated in Sections 6(b), 2(2)(a), 2(1) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act CAP R11 Laws of The Federation, 2004, and Section 16(1) and Section 21 of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, 2013.
Delivering judgement on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 after 33 months of incarceration at the Nigeria Correctional Centre fears legal battle Justice Nwakanma, discharged and acquitted the three accused.
The court held that police failed to prove the charges levelled them as there was no material evidence the prosecution presented before the court to justify the charge.
Reacting to the judgement, IPOB Counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor hailed the court decision, noting that though the wheels of justice might grind slowly, justice would surely take place.
Ejiofor, in statement on the victory said, “After a fierce legal battle that lasted nearly three years, the baseless and fabricated charges against Ezigbo UmuChineke have been completely dismantled, resulting in a triumphant outcome.
“On February 18, 2021, David Onyema, Uche Adiele, and Victor Isaiah were unjustly apprehended by overzealous Nigerian security agents in Umuahia, Abia State.
“They were subsequently brought before the Umuahia High Court, on a five count charge including conspiracy, armed robbery, unlawful possession of firearms, and terrorism related offences, as stipulated by Sections 6(b), 2(2)(a), 2(1) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act CAP R11 Laws of The Federation, 2004, and Section 16(1) and Section 21 of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, 2013.
“These innocent men were arrested and subsequently charged on the smokescreen 5-count charge, simply because they passed in front of a Police Station after the curfew in the State; and because one of them was allegedly putting on an IPOB cap and black cloth, and had bottles of drink in his bag.
“Despite our initial application for bail being rejected by the court, which insisted on proceeding with a full trial; we persevered throughout the trial process. The prosecution presented their witnesses to support their case, while we diligently presented a strong defence against these unfounded charges.
“Today, the 24th day of October, 2023, High Court of Justice, sitting in Umuahia, Court No. 6, Per: Hon Justice Chido Nwakanma, delivered a landmark judgement in this case. The court in its well considered judgement, discharged and acquitted, these three innocent Biafrans, who have been in custody since February 18, 2021. They have gone home as free men.
“I want to express my utmost appreciation to my esteemed colleagues in chambers and D. Agu, Esq., for their invaluable contributions, which played a significant role in achieving this remarkable victory.
“Let Ezigbo UmuChineke be assured that we are not relenting in our efforts to ensure that every Biafran currently held unlawfully by the Nigerian Security Agents, receives justice. It is true that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they ultimately deliver fair outcomes.”
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