Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Chief Magistrate Court I and II sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, yesterday granted bail to 67 suspected kidnappers, including two juveniles, standing trial for attempted armed robbery and kidnapping.
The 65 suspects had spent one week in Federal Medium Prisons in Koton-Karfe and Okene with exception of the two juveniles who were granted bail and moved to Family Court. The accused were arrested by a combined team of police, the army, Department of State Service (DSS) and National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) during a raid in Obajana on October 10.
According to the Police First Information Report (FIR), the combined team of security agents on a tip-off arrested the accused persons in Obajana area of Lokoja.
The police alleged that the accused and others now at large conspired, formed and belonged to a gang of thieves who were responsible for several thefts, robbery and kidnapping operations within Obajana-Kabba and its environs.
The police further alleged that the accused were seen at their criminal hideouts at Obajana while preparing to carry out robbery and kidnapping operations within Obajana and its environs.
The FIR further said a combined team of the police, the army, DSS and NSCDC swung into action and stormed the various criminal hideouts where the suspects were all arrested while others escaped.
Other members of the alleged gang who escaped the October 10 arrest, according to the police, at about 5p.m. on October 23, in a reprisal, killed two policemen, Sergeant Gini John and Inspector Ezekiel Negedu.
The hoodlums were also alleged to have carted away AK-47riffles belonging to the slain policemen and kidnapped one Portuguese national, Jose Machada, and took him to an unknown destination.
At Lokoja Chief Magistrate court I which handled a batch of 34 cases including the two juveniles, the presiding Chief Magistrate, Levi Animoku, said the accused had undertaken to comply with bail conditions.
Animoku said perusing the dispositions of the various affidavits presented by counsel to the accused that the accused were presumed innocent until the contrary was proven.
He said bail was not a discharge or acquittal of the accused of the charges preferred against him, adding: â€œGladly enough, the prosecution has given voice in favour of the bail of the accused persons.
He said: â€œEach accused is released on bail in the sum of N20,000 with a reliable surety in like sum.â€
The surety, Animoku added, must be either a civil servant or a staff of Dangote Cement Company or a notable businessman with evidence of means and resident in Lokoja or its environs.
Also at the Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court II, the presiding Chief Magistrate, Alhassan Hussaini, granted bail to 33 of the suspects alleged to have criminally conspired and attempted to commit armed robbery and kidnapping.