Connect with us

News

Fubara’s loyalists can face terrorism trial, court says

Published

on

Fubara

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday dismissed a preliminary objection challenging the Inspector General of Police’s authority to prosecute Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s loyalists for terrorism-related offences.

The accused, who are Fubara allies, are on trial for terrorism-related crimes and suspected murder.

The IGP filed the petitions against them in October 2023, following their alleged involvement in the bombing of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

After the charges were read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty.

In a preliminary objection filed through their counsel, Fubara’s allies sought the court to stop the trial of the terrorism-related charge preferred against them, arguing that only the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice could try them for such an infraction.

However, on Friday, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon ruled on their preliminary objections, stating that the defendants were incorrect in claiming that only the AGF could put them on trial.

Justice Olajuwon stated that the law, particularly sections 3, 63, and 74 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, made it apparent that, while the AGF had the constitutional authority to improve the terrorism prevention statute, those parts did not impose sole prosecutorial authority on the AGF.

The judge stated that while Law 5 of the Terrorism Prevention Act assigned police the obligation of gathering intelligence and conducting investigations, the same law also granted police the authority to file criminal charges before a competent court of jurisdiction.

Justice Olajuwon specifically held that, while the AGF might validly take over, continue, or terminate any started criminal charges under Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution, this right did not entitle the AGF to an exclusive trial.

“From the cursory look at all the authorities cited by lawyers for and against the IGP rights to initiate instant criminal proceedings, one thing is clear and too: police can rightly initiate criminal charges, including terrorism charges,” the judge said.

The judge stated that the defendants’ preliminary challenges to the trial were inept and without merit.

Olajuwon then disregarded their complaints.

Following the ruling, Lukman Fagbemi, SAN, counsel for the first and second defendants, petitioned the court to grant bail to his clients.

But the prosecution’s counsel, Simon Lough (SAN), opposed the application.

However, Justice Olajuwon scheduled a hearing on their bail applications for Monday, February 5.

Justice Olajuwon ordered that the five defendants be returned to Kuje Prison in Abuja, pending the court’s determination on whether to grant them bail or not.

Chronicle NG reports that the Rivers Assembly was bombed amid a scheme by 27 members loyal to Rivers’ immediate former governor, Nyesom Wike, to impeach Fubara.

The defendants charged by the police in connection with the incidents are Chime Ezebalike, Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod, Fubara’s allies.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trending