By Abdulwahab Abdulah & James Ezema
LAGOS — The uncooperative attitude of the police yesterday almost marred the arraignment of suspects alleged to have stolen 20 Direct Data Capturing, DDC, machines at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
The drama that trailed the arraignment began when the suspects were brought to the premises of the Ikeja Chief Magistrate Court at about 10.30 a.m. from the police custody. Apparently, concluding a plan to shroud the arraignment from the public, the police were moving the suspects from one court room to the other, with their lawyers and family friends insisting that the accused persons have nothing to do with DDC machines.
Realising that there was a plan to prevent them from covering the proceedings, newsmen especially those from the electronics media tried to capture effects from around the court, which infuriated policemen around, especially those attached to the court, who engaged the newsmen in physical combat which eventually led to the seizure of their tapes.
As the court presided over by Magistrate O. A. Komolafe was about to commence sitting, defence lawyers and policemen insisted that newsmen have to present a written paper, permitting them to cover the proceedings.
Eventually, the suspects, Suleiman Isa, Mrs. Sumonu Modupe, Lawal Lateef, and Bamidele Joshua, were taken into the Magistrate’s chambers where they were arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy and stealing.
It was gathered that the charge was read to them and they pleaded not guilty.
All the accused were subsequently granted bail in the sum of N500, 000.00 each with two sureties working with reputable organisations.
The accused were also ordered to deposit N50,000.00 each into the court’s bank account.
The matter has, however, been adjourned till February 7, 2011.