- No fewer than 51 adherents of Judaism have been arraigned before an Umuahia chief magistrate court
- They were arrested while marching through the streets of Umuahia, to demand a separate nation from Nigeria
- The suspects would be prosecuted for treasonable felony and terrorism for being in possession of the emblem and insignia of the proscribed IPOB, according to the police
No fewer than 51 adherents of Judaism were on Thursday, December 13, arraigned before an Umuahia chief magistrate court.
The suspects were arrested for being in possession of insignia and emblem of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and marching through the streets of Umuahia, to demand a separate nation from Nigeria.
According to New Telegraph, the court ordered them to be remanded in police custody pending their proper prosecution at a high court.
The police had said the suspects would be prosecuted for treasonable felony and terrorism for being in possession of the emblem and insignia of a proscribed organisation.
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They were arraigned before chief magistrate Idika Kalu, who said the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter or grant them bail and advised the suspects to apply to the high court for bail just as he ordered the case file to be transferred to the state attorney general.
The police prosecution counsel, DSP Adeyemi Olukoye, told the court to refuse bail to the suspects arguing that the case was a capital offense.
Counsel to the suspects, Anthony Nwafor, had argued that it was illegal and unconstitutional for the prosecution to arraign the suspects at a magistrate court when it was obvious that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try the case.
Citing several authorities and Supreme Court decisions on similar matter, Nwafor said, “there is nothing like holding charge. Magistrate’s court should not entertain the matter. You cannot come to court with a charge that the court cannot try.”
He prayed the court to release the suspects on bail pending their arraignment at the high court.
The matter was consequently adjourned to January 24, 2019, for report on compliance with the court order.
Speaking to journalists after the court session, the counsel said the arraignment of the suspects at a magistrate court was a ploy to further punish them. He assured that the team of defense counsel would take urgent steps to apply to the high court for bail.
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Meanwhile, the leader of the Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF), Barrister Benjamin Onwuka, has been arraigned before the Federal High Court, Owerri division.
Onwuka who has been in the custody of DSS for the past five months, was remanded in prison custody. It could be re-called that Onwuka, who was arrested in August after an encounter with security operatives, has been incommunicado ever since.
However, the deputy leader of the group, Mazi Ambrose Ugwu, told journalists in Enugu on Thursday, December 13, that Onwuka has been docked at the Federal High Court, Owerri by the DSS.
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