Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered that the five Port Harcourt-based men arraigned by the Federal Government on terrorism charges be remanded at Kuje Prison in Abuja.
The suspects are to remain in prison custody till February 2 when their respective bail applications would be determined by the judge.
The five defendants are Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod.
In the 7-count charge, the defendants were accused of committing alleged terrorism offences by invading, vandalizing and burning down the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex in the wake of political crisis that rocked the state in October last year.
The crisis followed the face-off between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor, Minister of the Federal Capital Terrritory, FCT, Nyesom Wike.
Beside allegedly burning down the State House of Assembly, the suspects were also accused of killing a Superintendent of Police, (SP) Bako Agbashim and five police informants at Ahoada community of the state.
The police informants alleged to have been killed are Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu and Saturday Edi.
The Federal Government also accused them of using various cult groups, namely – Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland and Greenland – to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.
- Ogun State To Extend Lagos Blue Rail Line To Border Towns
- Rivers Crises: Why Fubara Signed The Peace Agreement With Wike
- Opay To Log Out Accounts By March 1st
However, when the charges against them, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, was read, they all pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Although the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, was not listed in the 7-count terrorism charge, he was however represented in court by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Oluwole Aladedoyin, on the ground that his name featured prominently in the alleged offences.
He challenged the allegations that he was at large alongside other suspects.
Justice Olajuwon did not however allow further arguments on the ground that he was not yet a defendant in the trial.
Shortly after the arraignment, the leader of the prosecuting team, Audu Garba, applied for a date for full blown trial of the defendants.
However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Lukman Fagbemi, who stood for Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Prince Lukman Oladele, who are 1st and 2nd defendants, sought to move applications for their bail on the ground that they have been in the police custody since last year.
The government lawyer, Audu Garba, vehemently opposed the motion, arguing that he had just been served with the bail applications and needed time to study them and file a counter affidavit.
Justice Olajuwon agreed with the prosecution lawyer that the bail applications were not ripe for hearing. He subsequently fixed February 2 for hearing of all bail applications.
Pending hearing and determination of the bail applications, the judge ordered that the five defendants be taken to Kuje Prison until the adjourned date.