By Chinenyeh Ozor
ENUGU- Three persons including the chairmanship candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Mr Bonaventure Onuh, were Tuesday arraigned before an Enugu High Court sitting in Nsukka, on a three-count charge of alleged attempt to kidnap the branch Manger of Bank PHB, Nsukka, Mr Kevin Ezeja.
Those who were charged along with Onuh include Nwani Emmanuel Ngwu, one Jango and another person who was simply identified as Malachy.
However, there was a twist in the matter, as the representative of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Tony Ani made an oral application for the withdrawal of the suit number N/28/2011 ostensibly with a view to entering nolle prosequei (a legal notice nullifying the prosecution) at the next adjournment.
The state Attorney General, acting on behalf of the state, had earlier told the court that the four accused persons conspired among themselves on August 21, 2009 at Nsukka to commit felony to wit: kidnapping and thereby committing an offence punishable under section 496 (a) of the criminal code cap 30 vol. 11 laws of Enugu State, Nigeria, 2004 as amended in 2009.
Count two of the charge also stated that the accused Bonaventure Onuh and three others allegedly at the same time, place and date attempted to kidnap Kelvin Ezeja and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315(3) of the Criminal Code, Cap 30 Vol. II, Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004 as amended in 2009.
Also, count three, stated that Mr. Onuh and the other three accused persons allegedly conspired among themselves on same date, time and place and demanded with menace MTN recharge cards valued N30,000 from Kelvin Ezeja with threat to kill him if he failed to comply and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 371 of the criminal code, cap 30 vol. II laws of Enugu state of Nigeria 2004.
When the matter was called up, the state Counsel, Mr. Onyema Okpara, orally applied to the Court to withdraw the suit, saying he was acting on the instruction of the Attorney General of the state Mr. Tony Anih to do so.
After listening to the oral application by the DPP, based on the purported instruction of the Attorney General of the state, the presiding judge, Justice Tony Onovo transferred the matter back to police for further investigation, in compliance with the Attorney General’s oral application.
Reacting to the oral application and subsequent withdrawal of the suit for police to re-investigate the matter, a lawyer, Mr Eli Ugwu who was in court told Vanguard that he was to prosecute the matter through fiat, expressing dismay about the trend of events at the court room.
He said what happened in court room was strange to him, questioning the rationale for the Attorney General’s action.
Ugwu also doubted if the withdrawal of the suit was actually in the interest of the public or was just because Mr. Bonaventure Onuh was the chairmanship candidate of the PDP during next week’s local government election in the state.
He further said that the deal to kill the matter started on August 29, 2011 when Nwani Emmanuel Ugwu, a vital witness was released from prison custody by a magistrate court at Amagunze in Nkanu local government, a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction with the court that declined jurisdiction and remanded him in prison custody.
Ugwu however warned the Attorney General against stopping the trial of the suspects in view of implications to the government’s war against criminal activities in the country.
‘’For the Attorney General to exercise his powers under the law, he must have regard for public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process,’’ he stressed, adding that, the PDP candidate has ‘’client lawyer relationship with the Attorney General before his appointment.’’