Rivers Crisis: Fubara’s Loyalists to Remain in Prison for Trial

Rivers Crisis: Fubara’s Loyalists to Remain in Prison for Trial

•Court declines bail request

Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, refused bail to five loyalists of the governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, who were undergoing trial over their alleged complicity in the burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt.

The five defendants, who will remain in custody of the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, pending the determination of their case, are Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod.

They were arraigned by the Nigeria Police on January 25, on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on terrorism and murder. Although they pleaded not guilty to all the charges, the judge ordered that they be remanded at the Kuje Correctional Centre, pending the hearing of their bail application fixed for February 2, as well as the motion of the first and second defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit against them.

After taking arguments for and against the bail application last Friday, Olajuwon fixed Monday to deliver her ruling.

Unfortunately for the five defendants, the judge held that she was not disposed to admitting them to bail and rather ordered accelerated hearing in the case.

She predicated her decision on the fact that the defendants did not provide special circumstances to warrant their release from custody.

Ruling on the bail applications, Olajuwon said the defendants, especially Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Lukman Oladele, failed to give cogent and verifiable evidence to back up their request for bail.

Faulting the affidavits in support of the bail applications deposed to by one Mariam Alawiye, an Office Assistant, the judge pointed out that while the deponent claimed to have obtained information and exhibits on the defendants from some persons, she failed to share the identities of the persons with the court.

Further faulting the affidavits, Olajuwon held that the deponent also did not make any documents or exhibits available to the court to support all her assertions in the affidavit evidence.

Olajuwon explained that an affidavit evidence must supply names of those who volunteered information about defendants in a criminal charge, as stipulated by Section 115 of the Evidence Act.

The court held that rather than containing facts, as required by law, the affidavit contained extraneous issues that were not relevant and could not persuade any court to grant bail.

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