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Police withdraw docked ‘election observers’ back to custody

BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI —  A classical drama played out, yesterday, in Owerri Magistrate Court 3, as armed policemen, in a commando style, bundled the 182 accused persons they brought to court, back to their custody.

It was not very clear why the police decided to storm the court in that manner, instead of prosecuting the matter they filed against the suspects.

Our correspondent gathered that the 182 accused persons were part of the 203 persons arrested in Owerri by the police last Thursday, for allegedly assembling in Owerri unlawfully before proceeding to AnambraState for the gubernatorial election that was held last weekend.

Three-count charge were slammed in suit OW/503C/2013, against the accused persons but no plea was taken before the drama played out.

Our correspondent noticed that the police started moving the accused persons from the court room gradually and before people fully appreciated the plot, only 62 persons were left.

When one of the defence counsel, Chief Soronnadi Njoku, drew the attention of the presiding magistrate, Mrs. Maureen U. Onyewuotu, to the unfolding drama, the police prosecutor told the court that “there are plans to withdraw the charges against the accused persons.”

Responding to this submission, Chief Njoku argued: “Even if the police wanted to withdraw the charges, there were legal procedures that must be followed” and appealed to the court to order the police to return all the suspects to court.

Armed with this plea, the court decided to stand down the hearing but instead of bringing the accused persons to court, about 20 armed policemen stormed the courtroom and ordered the remaining 62 persons out of the court.

Speaking exclusively to Vanguard after waiting endlessly for the police to return the accused persons, Njoku described the event as “most embarrassing.”

In his words: “I have never seen this type of show of force by the police in my several years of legal practice. The armed policemen simply desecrated the temple of justice by their act. The court even stood down the case for more than two hours before adjourning to December 12, 2013.”

 


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