By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Counsel to Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, Ken Atsuwete, has accused Governor Nyesom Wike and the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma (SAN) of being responsible for the continued detention of his client.
But, Aguma has stated that Flag-Amachree was only standing trial based on the findings of the Police and that his office would not be intimidated into dropping charges of murder preferred against the APC chieftain.
Flag-Amachree, who is also former chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Council of the state, is being tried on murder charges before a State High Court presided over by Justice Margaret Opara, and currently remanded in the Port Harcourt Prison.
Atsuwete, who made the accusation while briefing journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, also raised the alarm that the state government, through the office of the attorney-general had concluded plans to arraign his client before the Chief Judge’s Court on a second murder charge.
Atsuwete said, “There is now a second charge, which has not been served on him. My client has not received any charge; I think the world needs to hear this. My client has not been served a second charge. Yet, Rivers State government has gone on air insisting that Ojukaye Flag-Amachree has been served with a charge.
“As we speak right now, the Chief Judge’s Court is about to sit on a charge that has not been served on Ojukaye Flag-Amachree. We call on the Chief Judge of Rivers State, who is rich in law to see that justice is done because justice is a three-way traffic. We are pleading passionately that well-meaning Nigerians should intervene. Ojukaye’s life, as it is right now is threatened. The man is about to die; his bail application pending at the Court of Appeal.”
He wondered where the office of the Attorney-General of the state and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) got the investigation report they were using to arraign Flag-Amachree on a second murder charge, when his client had been in prison custody since April 19, 2016.
According to him, “Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is not being prosecuted; he is being persecuted. It was in the news this morning that Ojukaye Flag-Amachree has been served with another charge for another murder.
“Ojukaye has been in detention since April 19, 2016, so when did the Police investigate this second murder charge, when there is a murder charge that is yet to go in for hearing? Where did they get it from?
Where did the Attorney-general and the Director of Public Prosecution get this investigation report from with which they produced another charge against Flag-Amachree?”
But in his address to journalists in Port Harcourt recently, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), said his office was being vilified for carrying out its constitutional duties.
He accused the then Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, of trying to stall justice even when police report had recommended the trial of Flag-Amachree for the murder of two persons: Smart Sobrekon and Imienamorbo Dokubo of Buguma Town in Asari-Toru Local Government Area.
His words: “Now, the story out there is that he (Flag-Amachree) may be a victim of a witch-hunt or he is being incarcerated unlawfully or that there is some form of vindictiveness in what is happening to him. All such insinuations are false.
“The police report from this case file, dated April 20, 2016 is signed by DCP Yahaya S. Abubakar, who is the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Port Harcourt. The report from the police on this was made on April 13, 2015 because the murder for which he was charged occurred on April 11, 2015. On April 11, 2015 when the young man was murdered, I was not the attorney general; Nyesom Wike was not the governor.
“The statements of the witnesses were taken when that report was made. The only witness whose statement was not taken was Ojukaye Flag-Amachree. Of course, we all know why. The police was helpless; they could do nothing about it. That was why they did not obtain his statement. The findings of the police was made after the statement was obtained on April 19, 2016. After obtaining the statement of Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, this is the police report: Findings; In the course of investigations, the following facts emerged:
One, that on April 11, 2015, one Smart Sobrekon was shot and killed by a group of boys wearing black on black in Buguma Town on the instruction of Honourable Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
“Two, that an eye witness, by name Ipalibo Jackson who was also a victim of the gunshots, saw when the two deceased persons were shot and killed.
“Three, during the incident, two people died namely, Smart Sobrekon and Imienamorbo Dokubo of Buguma Town in Asari-Toru Local Government Area, the suspect therein, Honourable Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, was positively identified by an eye witness, named Ipalibo Dokubo, who survived the attack.
Four, that autopsy report gave the cause of death of the deceased to the injury received from the gunshots.
That the attack took place in Ojukaye Flag-Amachree’s compound in Buguma Town.
“These are police findings and it is based on these findings that the police recommended that Ojukaye Flag-Amachree should be charged to court. It is not based on my findings; it is not based on the findings of the Attorney General. It is based on the police findings that a prima facie case against him and that this matter should be charged to the Magistrate Court.
On April 20, 2016, the matter was charged to court in a two-count charge of conspiracy to murder and murder. The Magistrate Court do not have jurisdiction over murder; it is purely a matter for the High Court. But we have a law called Criminal Procedure Miscellaneous Provisions Law; it is under Chapter 39 of the Laws of Rivers State. That law empowers a magistrate that does not have jurisdiction to hear an offence to remand for that offence. The magistrate, pursuant to his powers under that law, first, made an Order of Remand and determined that the file be forwarded to the DPP.
It is at this point that the twist in the saga started. On April 21, there was an attempt by the Inspector General of Police to withdraw this charge, regardless of the damning evidence you see here. The magistrate ruled that he did not have the jurisdiction to hear but he has jurisdiction to remand; that it is not a holding charge and referred the matter to the DPP. So that attempt by the IGP failed on April 21, 2016.
On May 4, 2016, the day slated to receive the DPP report, there was also an attempt again by the IGP to withdraw this clear charge of murder when the evidence is there and investigations had been concluded. There was a second attempt by the IGP to withdraw this charge. The magistrate exercised his wisdom. But that did not stop the supporters of Ojukaye Flag-Amachree to go on air to make all manners of allegations against this office, not my person. This culminated in the lady who purported to be his mother saying the Attorney General is trying to kill her son; that the IGP said there is no case and that the DPP said there is no case.
Fortunately, the DPP’s advice is a public document and is at the Magistrate Court. If you apply for it, you will obtain it. They have applied for the DPP’s advice and obtained it and I believe so because the young man who signed the DPP’s advice and who is a state counsel, has been receiving threat messages from them.
The case file for the prosecution is complete and the Rivers State Ministry of Justice, headed by my humble self is prepared to prosecute this matter to its logical conclusion. We are not afraid. There is nobody who has power over another’s life.
“But we shall not be intimidated; nobody in the ministry of justice will be intimidated. We are going to handle this matter and handle it clearly to its logical conclusion. If Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is innocent the court will acquit him, if he is guilty, the court will convict him.”