…abuse of court process, says lawyer to accused
An Ebonyi State High Court, sitting in Abakaliki, the state capital, on Tuesday, remanded a two-term member of the House of Representative and Labour Party senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South Zone for the forthcoming 2023 general election, Linus Okorie.
Okorie was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday morning while driving out of his Abakaliki residence and was on Monday morning brought to the Ebonyi Command headquarters by members of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit, where the police alleged he was arrested over his involvement in illicit drugs deals.
He was arraigned for alleged offences bordering on false information, fraud, murder and felony.
In one of the three separate charges against Okorie, which dated differently, the police alleged that the suspect, in liaison with others, attempted to defraud the government of its property valued N750,000 in August 2021 in the Abakaliki metropolis.
The Police Prosecutor, Nduakaku Chinagorom-Eze, told the court that the offences contradicted sections 8 (a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, Cap A66 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2006.
The charges read in part, “That you Linus Okorie ‘M’ and others at large, sometime in the month of August 2021, at Layota Farm Abakaliki within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Advance Fee Fraud and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, CAP A66 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.
“That you, Linus Okorie ‘M’ and others now at large, on the same date, place and in the aforesaid Magistrate District, did, with intent to defraud, obtain National Identity Card Registration Machine valued at N750,000, property of the Federal Government, through a medium of contract induced by false pretence, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (3) of Advance Fee Fraud Act, CAP A66 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.”
In a heated argument, the counsel for Okorie, Nomeh Chikaodiri, pleaded with the Magistrate to grant the suspect bail, on the grounds that as a senior citizen, he would not jump bail.
But the prosecuting counsel, Chinagorom-Eze, objected to the bail application, saying the suspect might thwart the court processes because of his position in the society.
The Magistrate, Justice I. Ogodo, remanded the suspect and directed that the matter be transferred to the Federal High Court Abakaliki, for competent adjudication and trial.
The matter was adjourned to November 4, 2022.
Reacting, the suspect’s lead counsel, Chikaodiri, said the Tuesday court decision was abuse and affront to judicial proceedings.
He said, “We have details of the charges already and we opposed the reading of the charges before the court because in our humble view it constitutes an abuse of court processes.
“There is a judgement of a Federal High Court by Justice Ekwo that restrained the police and the Ebonyi State Government from arresting Okorie, and that judgement is still subsisting on the same subject matter.
“We raised an objection, which was overruled. But we will test it, we have seen it all and, by the grace of God, the intendment of the charges is to keep him behind bars. Our client is a leading senatorial candidate in Ebonyi South and the essence of all this is to weaken him and his supporters.
“We will either approach the Court of Appeal, which earlier delivered judgement on the matter, or think of other options. This is because what happened today is an abuse and an affront to judicial proceedings.”