By TONY EDIKE, Enugu
THIRTEEN persons, including three legal practitioners, have been arraigned before an Awgu Chief Magistrate Court for alleged conspiracy, assault, stealing and wilful damage of property worth thousands of naira belonging to some natives of Ugwunagbo village, Ituku in Awgu local government area of Enugu State.
The accused persons listed by the State Police Command in Charge No. MAG/92C/2011 brought against them included Chibuike Anioke, Abel Chukwu, Christian Ujam, Felix Udeh, Chime Onyeka, Emeka Ogbuagu, Lawrence Maduabuchi, Afemefuna Camillus Ginika, Chime Valentine Chidiebere, Anioke Oliver, Barrister Okeke Chinweze, Barrister Igbokwe George and Barrister Obi A. Okonkwo.
The accused persons, who are also natives of Ugwunagbo village and others now at large, according to the Police Prosecutor, F. C. Okafor Esq, allegedly committed the offences on July 10, 2011 at the village and were accordingly arrested and charged to court after investigations to answer the eight-count charges preferred against them.
They were said to have conspired among themselves “to commit felony to wit: stealing and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 495 (a) of the criminal code cap 30 Vol. II Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.”
According to the charge read to the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty, they were said to have unlawfully assaulted one Christian Okafor by hitting him with sticks and fist blows all over his body while the sum of N80,000 and LG handset valued N17,000 belonging to the victim were stolen during the attack.
In addition, the accused persons were said to have allegedly damaged an eyeglass valued N6,500 and an umbrella valued N1,300 property of Christian Okafor as well as a Toyota 4-Runner Jeep valued at N3 million belonging to Chief Linus Ogbuanu, both natives of the same village.
Other property said to have been damaged by the accused persons during the attack on the affected natives that fateful day include Iron gate, glass railing, wall paint, cladding roof, window glass and mosquito proofs valued N7 million property of Chief Linus Orji Chukwu ; another set of iron gate, Alumaco windows, doors and stair case roof valued N3 million belonging to Chief Anselem Egbeh.
The presiding Chief Magistrate, S. O. Chukwuani, however, granted all the accused persons bail after pleading not guilty to the charges in the sum of N20,000 each with a surety who must be a respected member of the society and subsequently adjourned the case to January 27 for hearing.
Vanguard leant that chieftaincy conflict engulfed the Ugwunagbo village last year following the death of the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Edmund Chukwu as a section of the community known as Enugu Eze Clan from where the deceased traditional ruler hailed allegedly insisted on contesting for the seat in violation of the rotational principle adopted by the community.
The accused persons and several other youth in the community with the strong backing of a Catholic Priest from the area, allegedly conspired and dumped refuse at the houses of some selected elders who were opposed to the plot to hijack the traditional stool and the leadership of the Town Union, describing them as “outcasts”.
Despite the legal action institution by some leaders of the community to stop the group from causing confusion in the area, the accused persons allegedly resorted to attacking the victims during which they inflicted bodily harm on them and destroyed several property in the process resulting in their arrest and prosecution.