THE Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, February 5, rejected bail for five detained loyalists of Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara.
They were accused of vandalising and burning down the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex.
The defendants are standing trial for a seven-count terrorism charge preferred against them by the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun. They include Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald, Ochueja Thankgod, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, and Lukman Oladele.
In the file with the charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, the prosecution also charged the defendants with employing cults, specifically Greenland, Degbam, Iceland, and the Supreme Vikings Confraternity, to inflict chaos on the state.
The ICIR reported that following the political unrest that shook the state in October of last year, the Police accused the defendants of breaking into the House of Assembly building to thwart an attempt to remove Fubara from office.
However, through their lawyers, the accused pleaded with the court to free them on bond while the case against them was being decided.
They claimed that until their guilt was proven, they should be considered innocent under the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Oladele, the third defendant, asked the court to grant him bail based on his health.
Simon Lough, the Police lawyer, opposed the bail applications, claiming the accused had not shown sufficient evidence of extraordinary circumstances to support their release on bond.
According to the prosecutor, the defendants were accused of capital offences.
Instead, Lough asked the judge to give the suspects an expedited trial.
The trial judge, Bolaji Olajuwon, rejected the defendant’s bail plea, siding with the prosecution.
The court then postponed the case until Thursday, February 8 to start the hearing.
The judge had previously rejected an application that two defendants, Oladele and Ezebalike, had made to challenge the charge’s competency.
According to the defendants, the IGP lacked the power to bring the case against them.
They pleaded with the judge to dismiss the accusation because they allegedly constituted an abuse of the legal system.
According to them, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is the sole authority authorised to initiate such legal action against any individual under sections Three and 74 of the Terrorism Prevention & Prohibition Act (2022).
They insisted that the sole duties assigned to security organisations, such as the Police, were to gather intelligence and examine incidents as theirs.
Olajuwon dismissed the preliminary objection, ruling that the AGF was not the only entity with the authority to institute a criminal prosecution in accordance with Section 174 of the TPPA 2022.
The Police have the legal authority to prosecute the defendants, the court ruled.
During the Friday hearing, Ehie asked the court to strike out any reference to him in the charge through the counsel, Oluwole Aladedoye.
However, the judge, Olajuwon, denied the application.