BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA — THE Kogi State Police Command, yesterday, arraigned four traditional rulers and 11 others for allegedly carting away some permanent voters’ cards being distributed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state.
The traditional rulers are Mallam Ibrahim Mamud, the Okatama of Jamata and a third class chief; Alhaji Jubril Idris, the Ogidiga of Ohono; Mallam Musa Abu, the Ohiho of Iziho and Mallam Shaibu Momoh, the Ohiho of Gbaude
Others are Hon. Musa Adekeke, Musa Amodu, Gambo Audu,Yakubu Alli, Salisu Musa, among others.
The suspects were charged for trying to truncate the 2015 general election, criminal conspiracy, screening offender, and theft contrary to Sections 97(e), 167 and 287 of the Penal Code Law.
Police prosecutor said one Buki Ezekiel of the ‘B’ Police division, Lokoja reported that the suspects attacked one INEC official by name Onwajeheri Gabriel, who was issuing permanent voters’ cards to members of the public at Ijiho Primary School and in the process conspired and forcefully carted away a carton containing some permanent voters’ cards.
The Police prosecutor, who prayed the court to deny the accused persons bail owing to the weight of the offence and the fact that the Police have not concluded their investigations, said only 433 have so far been recovered from the accused persons while 535 cards are still missing.
All the 15 accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty.
Counsel to the accused, Moses Enwerem, who appeared for the first to the sixth accused persons and one M. J. Samuel who appeared for the 7th-15th accused persons, both opposed the submission of the prosecution, saying the offence was not a capital offence.
Samuel specifically said the traditional rulers were never arrested by the Police at the scene but were only picked up when they volunteered to make peace in their respective domains.
He said they were at home at the time of the incident and were the actual persons who retrieved the stolen voters’ cards from their subjects who ran away with the carton of voters’ cards only for them to be arrested and detained.
He also said the councillor went to bail the traditional rulers when he too was subsequently detained.
The trial judge, Levi Animaku, who in his ruling said bail was a constitutional matter and the right of the accused persons, noted that the court was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the traditional rulers were men of integrity most of whom he said are advanced in age.
He, therefore, granted the accused bail in the sum of N30,000 each with a surety in the like sum.
He adjourned the case till June 23 for further mention.