Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
Seven members of two rival cult groups in Lokoja, Kogi State have been remanded in Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe by a Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court over the alleged murder of three persons in a reprisal cult attack.
The Chief Magistrate, Levi Animoku, gave the order in his ruling yesterday in Lokoja following the arraignment of the accused persons for the murder of Omale Usman, Musa Muhammed a.k.a Tipper and Segun Folorunsho a.k.a. Abi.
They were charged with criminal conspiracy, membership of unlawful society, attempted culpable homicide and culpable homicide contrary to sections 97(1), 97(b), 229 and 221 of the Penal Code Law.
The police First Information Report (FIR) read by the prosecuting police officer Mr. Tuesday Ganagana, said the accused, who were members of the ‘Arrow Baga’ and ‘Aye confraternity’ committed, the alleged offences at about 11:30 p.m. on March 22.
According to him, the group criminally conspired and armed themselves with deadly weapons including knives, axes and cutlasses and violently stabbed to death one Omale Usman, an alleged member of the ‘Arrow Baga’ over cult rivalry.
They were also alleged to have inflicted machete cuts on one Lekan alias Okoli and Maikudi Isah who were immediately rushed to Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja and admitted for treatment.
The FIR further revealed that members of the offended cult group led by one Nasara Abubakar loaded themselves in a Mercedes Benz car marked AV 994 MKD and other vehicles and launched a reprisal on members of the other group.
The attack, according to the FIR, led to a free-for-all among the two cult groups which resulted in the death of Musa Muhammed and Segun Folorunsho.
The FIR further revealed that the alleged ‘Aye’ cult group leader, Nasara Abubakar, and his members took the corpses of the slain rival group members away in the car and dumped them in the River Niger.
The Ganagana told the court that investigation into the matter was on-going and asked for adjournment but objected to granting of bail, saying the offence of culpable homicide under Section 341 of CPC was not bailable offence.
But B.T. Alagani and Mu’azu Abass leading three other lawyers for the accused, applied for their bail, invoking Section 36(5) of the constitution which infers presumption of innocence of an accused until proved otherwise.
According to them, no matter how the FIR is couched, it cannot take the place of evidence and he therefore urged the court to use its discretion to grant the accused persons bail.
Animoku, in his ruling, said: “The offence of culpable homicide is the highest crime known to our laws. It carries death penalty. In as much as the court has discretion to admit persons alleged of crimes to bail, it must be done with caution.
“However, one thing stands out in the FIR that three persons lost their lives while some people are still receiving treatment. The presumption of innocence is not absolute. So, I decline to delve into granting bail to the accused persons.
“The accused persons shall be remanded at the federal prisons, Koton-Karfe,” he ruled and adjourned the case to May 3 for mention.