Ohakim’s Absence Stalls Arraignment on Alleged Harassment Charges
By Alex Enumah
The arraignment of former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim was yesterday stalled at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The court had slated February 15 for the arraignment of the former governor and one Chinedu Okpareke who are being accused by the police of threatening and harassing one Ms. Chinyere Amuchienwa.
However, when the matter was called, both Ohakim and Okpareke were not in court for their arraignment.
Reacting, lawyer to the prosecution, Mr. Stanley Nwodo who expressed surprise at the absence of the defendants informed the court that Ohakim has been on administrative bail since November 11, 2020.
But counsel to Okpareke, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, (SAN) however explained that his client was not in court because he was not served with any hearing notice to appear in court.
Etiaba, however, undertook to ensure that his client would be present in court on the next adjourned date and asked the prosecutor to also inform Ohakim.
In a short ruling, trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo after confirming that hearing notices were yet to be served on the defendants, enjoined the prosecution to ensure that the defendants were in court on the next adjourned date.
“The matter is brought before me for the first time for arraignment.
“The court will overlook the absence of the defendants in court today because it is the responsibility of the prosecution to produce them in court or to ensure that they attend court.
“They must be produced in court at the next adjourned date for arraignment and possible commencement of trial,” the judge held.
He subsequently adjourned till March 3 for arraignment and possible commencement of trial.
According to the charge number FHC/ABJ/CS/287/2020, the two defendants were said to have threatened to release a nude photograph of Amuchienwa, if she fails to drop charges of attempted kidnap against them.
In the five-count charge dated November 25, 2020, the police alleged that the defendants knowingly and intentionally transmitted communication through a computer system to harass and bully Amuchienwa.
According to the charge, the offence is punishable under Section 24(1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.
Some of the charges read, ‘’That you Chinendu Okpareke ‘male’ 49, and Ikedi Ohakim ‘male’ and others now at large on August 13, 2020 within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves by knowingly and intentionally sending messages by means of computer system or network in a grossly offensive, pornographic, nude of an indecent obscene and menacing character of one Chinyere Amuchienwa ‘female’ and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.
‘’That you Chinendu Okpareke ‘male’ 49, and Ikedi Ohakim ‘male’ and others now at large on August 13, 2020 within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves to cause annoyance and criminal intimidation to one Chinyere Amuchienwa ‘female’ and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 27 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime Act 2015.