The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, remanded five men in prison custody for allegedly invading, vandalizing and burning down the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.
Nigeriacrime.com gathered that the defendants; Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod, who were docked before trial Justice Bolaji Olajuwon, pleaded not guilty to a seven-count terrorism charge that was preferred against them by the Nigeria Police Force, NPF.
The defendants, who were said to be loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, had in the wake of the political crisis that rocked the state in October last year, allegedly invaded the House of Assembly complex in a bid to frustrate an attempt to impeach the governor.
They were in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, equally accused of killing a Superintendent of Police, SP, Bako Agbashim and other five police informants at Ahoada community I Rivers State.
Names of three police informants who were allegedly killed by the defendants were given as; Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu and Saturday Edi.
The prosecution equally accused the defendants of using various cult groups, namely; Supreme Vikings Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland and Greenland, to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.
Even though the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, was not listed in the charge, however, he briefed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Oluwole Aladedoy, to appear before the court on his behalf, stressing that his name was mentioned in some counts in the charge.
He challenged police for declaring that he was at large with other suspects.
Nevertheless, trial Justice Olajuwon said he was not minded to entertain any argument from Ehie’s lawyer since he was not yet a defendant before the court.
Meanwhile, following the defendants’ plea of innocence, the prosecution counsel, Audu Garba, applied for a trial date, even as he prayed the court to remand the defendants in prison custody.
However, Lukman Fagbemi, SAN, who appeared for the defendants, told the court that he had filed an application for the release of his clients on bail.
He told the court that the defendants have been in police custody since they were arrested last year.
His attempt to move the bail application was opposed by the prosecution counsel, Garba, who told the court that he had just served the motion and would therefore need time to read through it to be able to file a counter affidavit.
In his bench ruling, Justice Olajuwon agreed with the prosecution lawyer that the bail applications were not ripe for hearing.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till February 2 to hear the bail applications.
The court directed that the defendants should be remanded at Kuje Prison in Abuja, pending the determination of their bail applications.
Specifically, the defendants were alleged to have on October 29, 2023, at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, conspired to commit acts of terrorism, by wilful destruction of public properties, by invading, attacking, destroying and burning the Rivers State House of Assembly, an offence punishable under section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
Some of the counts in the charge against them, read: “That you, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, businessman of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert conspired together to commit felony to wit: acts of terrorism by wilful destruction of public properties by invading, attacking, destroying and burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 26 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
“That you Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, businessman of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert and armed with dynamite, iron rods, lighters and other offensive weapons willfully and maliciously invaded, attacked and set fire on the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”