By Sylvester Idowu
The Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State has remanded five persons in prison custody over an alleged attempt to extort and defame Prof. Maureen Etebu, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Warri South-west Local Government area of the state.
The accused persons, Dr. Vincent Akpoveta (38 years); Stanley Erobosa (40 years); Doboikiabo Warmate (47 years); Edgar Daniel Biu (47 years); and Ibrahim Abubarkar (34 years), were arrested by operatives of the Zonal Headquarters of the Nigerian Police.
They were arraigned before the Federal High Court, Warri presided over by Justice Emeka Nwete, who adjourned the case till February 3, 2021.
The accused were charged with eight counts of defamation, extortion and criminal conspiracy, but all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Only Edgar Daniel Biu, who is the fourth accused was mentioned in all the eight count charges.
Legal Counsels to the accused, Barr. N. Trofaniowei (fourth respondent); Barr. Ray Enogeh (third respondent); Barr. N. Ohre (first respondent); Barr. H.O Omyebuolose (second respondent); and Barr. P.O. Itsyeli moved applications for their bail which were turned down by the court.
Police Prosecuting Counsel, N.A Ukpebor opposed the applications for bail, alleging that the accused may tamper with the prosecuting witnesses and that the purported medical report tendered by the fourth and third accused were fake.
Nwete in his ruling on the bail applications, turned down the request of the accused and ordered them remanded in prison custody.
The Inspector General of Police had in a suit numbered FHC/WR/66CC/2020 with eight count charges against the accused, alleged criminal extortion and attempt to defame the characters of the former vice- chancellor, which is punishable by section 24(2)(a)(b)(1) of the cybercrime prohibition and Proclamation Act, 2015.
In the charge sheet, the three accused were alleged to have “in June 2020 sent offensive and obscene mails to Etebu, thereby committing offences punishable under section 24(a)(b) of the Cyber Crime Prohibition and Revocation Act,.
“That in June, 2020, they sent email to the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Maureen Etebu with attempt to extort N150,000,000 from her and another attempt in June, 2020 to extort N200,000,000 punishable by sect. 24(2)(a)(b)(6)(1) and (1) of the Cyber Crime Prohibition Act, 2015.”