Police have charged 20 pro Biafra supporters who were part of the protest by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Monday, in Port Harcourt, among other things, for treasonable felony at a Magistrate’s court in Port Harcourt.
Chief Magistrate Andrew Jaja remanded the suspects in prison custody and adjourned the matter to Tuesday October 27 for their counsels to argue issues bordering on their bail application.
Those arraigned in court were : Benson Sunday (21), Emmanuel Ali (25), Ukeme Monday (32), Chibuzo Ezechina (33), Charles Eze (29), Egbo Okechukwu (24), Chibona Ifion (47), John Douglas (20), Ezenwa Alphonus (51), Wori Endurance (30), Chinomere Nwolu (25), Henry Eze (36),Friday Uzunwa (22), Igodo Abio (34), Akaniyene Uwem (22), Eni Iboro (27), Obinna Stephen (26), Monday Ocha (37), Obinna Ibekwe (27), and Kingsley Ezengorie (24)
They were charged for treasonable felony after allegedly destroying the national flag hoisted at the premises of a bank during their protest and chanting hate songs against the Nigerian state.
The three- count charge against them read in part, “…on October 20 2015, at about 2:00p.m., at Ikwerre Road in Port Harcourt, the suspects and others now at large, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Treason and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 37(2), of the criminal code, Cap C38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
“… on same date and time did without lawful authority demonstrate and chant war song that Hausa is not part of Biafra, which caused panic in the neighbourhood, instilled fear on reasonable grounds with intent to intimidate or cause panic within the state and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 37(1) of the criminal code, Cap c38 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.
“…all the suspects and others now at large on the same place and time, did wilfully and unlawfully damage the Nigeria flag, which was hoisted at Zenith Bank Plc. Ikoku Branch in Port Harcourt, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 451 of criminal code, Cap c38 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.”
They were not allowed to take plea. but they were all represented by different counsels.
Chief Magistrate Andrew-Jaja said that though there were arguments from various counsels to grant them bail, he was not convinced. So, he ordered that they be remanded in prison custody till October 27 when each of the counsels will address the court on their bail application.
State counsel, Ayo A. Ajaghe, who prosecuted the case argued against their bail applications, saying that the magistrate’s court lacked powers to hear the matter.
According to the counsel, the offence for which they were charged was treasonable and attracts capital punishment if convicted.
He said they should not be allowed to go because they were allegedly moving to tear the country apart.
It was gathered that another batch of 24 persons were brought to the state CID for similar offence. It is not clear when they will be charged to court.
Judtice Onunwo, who spoke to the Vanguard on the development at the court , said those arrested were innocent.
According to him, Police provided security for the protesters, Tuesday, wondering why a handful of persons would be arrested and charged to court over the protest..