- The count charges levelled against seven suspects for May 2017 killing in Aniocha north local government area of Delta state have been amended
- The charges were amended by the federal government on Wednesday, October 21
- The prosecution at the assumption of the trial informed the court that the charges were amended because more defendants were joined to the matter
The federal government on Wednesday, October 21, filed a three-count amended criminal charge levelled against seven people alleged to have been involved in the 2017 killing of indigenes of Idumuje-Ugboko community in Aniocha north local government area of Delta state.
The initial charge had involved three persons but following a bench warrant issued by the Federal High Court in Abuja, four additional defendants were arrested and included in the charge.
The accused persons were said to have allegedly unleashed terror on residents of the community in May 2017. According to the charge sheet, their action which include the burning of houses and destruction of property led to the killing of Cyprian Kumaorun within the community.
At assumption of trial on Wednesday, October 21, the prosecuting counsel, Shuiabu Labaran told the court that although the business of the day was arraignment, not all the defendants were available.
Labaran said due to some circumstances beyond the state's control, the correctional centre in Kuje was unable to produce the first and second defendant in court.
He also told the court that the prosecution is in possession of an affidavit of fact stating reason for the absence of the third defendant. According to him, the addition of new defendants to the case also necessitated the need to amend the charges.
He noted that since all the defendants were not in court, rather than have the arraignments in piecemeal, the matter should be adjourned to allow all the defendants present in court for arraignment.
Addressing the court, counsel to the third defendant, M.O Omorogbe said his client was unable to appear before the lordship because he was "stuck in Asaba".
"My client informed me that he received a text from the airline he was scheduled to fly with on Tuesday that the flight had been cancelled because of the #Endsars protest.
"We have filed an affidavit of facts demonstrating the third defendant's inability to be in court and we apologise as the situation is beyond our control.
Speaking, Agbo Madaki, a counsel to the second defendant said his client had fulfilled his bail conditions and expects the court to sign his release.
Having heard from all parties involved, the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, adjourned the matter to Friday, October 30 for amendment of the charge and fresh arraignment.
Justice Abang while stating that the four new defendants would be added for trial ordered that the third defendant be present in court unfailingly on the next adjourned date.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the trial of Nwochie Agiliga Light, Aikhomo Omezi, Okey Ifejoku, Godwin Akaba Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko and Emeka Bidoku were expected to commence on Wednesday, October 21.
The Federal High Court has moved the assumption of trial to the date following the absence of Justice Okon Abang.
In other news, suspects arrested and detained over the killing of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, were released by a Magistrate Court in Kaduna.
The court while ordering the release of the suspects said affirmed the prosecution's claim that the police investigation did not find them wanting.
Tolulope Arotile: NAF Flying Officer laid to rest | Legit TV