By ENYIM ENYIM
ONITSHA—THE trial of six persons charged with kidnapping and murder, yesterday, at an Ogidi Magistrate Court in Idemili local government area of Anambra State, took a dramatic twist as one of the suspects, a native doctor, denied preparing charms for criminals but governors and other prominent people in the society.
The suspect, Chukwunonso Okerulu, even boasted that he had bought many cars and built houses from proceeds earned working for governors.
He said: “Our people even gave me chieftaincy title when they found out after administering native oath on me that my hands are clean.
“I am a native doctor, a trade which I have practiced for more than 20 years and I have many cars and big buildings all over the places, even governors visit my shrine,” the suspect told the court.
Pandemonium had earlier trailed trial of the six suspects as villagers stormed the court premises to hear the case, causing anxiety and stampede.
As early as 8.30 am, residents of the community had thronged the court to hear the matter in connection with the murder of two security guards and kidnapping of one, Dr. Reuben Okwosa in December last year.
The atmosphere became tensed when the accused persons were called to the dock by the court clerk and the 8-count charge read to them.
The six persons standing trial over murder of two security guards attached to KP Pharmaceutical at Ogidi, Idemili North local government area, as well as kidnap of Dr. Reuben Okwosa, had allegedly collected N5.5 million ransom.
Those arraigned were Emmanuel Caesar Nwabunne ‘m’ 32, Edward Nwoye ‘m’ 50, Ifeanyi Nwafor, ‘M’ 48 years, Chukwunonso Okerulu, ‘m’ 37 Anthony Aghaonu, ‘m’ 41 and Vincent Aghanou, ‘m’ 25 years who were being accused of masterminding the murder and kidnap of the medical doctor.
The accused persons were also standing trial for murder of one Godwin Mendu who was a security guard at KP Pharmaceuticals, when they allegedly struck at an end of year party being organised for the chairman of the company, Dr. Reuben Okwosa, who was kidnapped in the process.
One of the lawyers to the accused persons, Mr. Peremine Oseme, who appeared for the 1st, 5th and 6th accused persons, said his clients were merely arraigned by the prosecutors on mere suspicion.
Oseme noted that since his clients were not seen at the scene of the crime but arrested while drinking at a beer palour for allegedly waving at the Sports Utility Vehicle, SUV, that was used by the kidnappers to kidnap the victim, it was a mere suspicion.
Miss. Genevieve Nwosu who appeared for the 4th accused, said the prosecutors had not been able to establish their case, adding that “to arrest my client because they waved at a moving vehicle was laughable”
However, the prosecuting counsel , Mr. Ebitemu Orifu, said the suspects were arrested in connection with the crime, adding that there was enough evidence to prosecute them.
The presiding Magistrate, Phil Ebosia, said the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.
He also directed the prosecuting counsel to collect all certified copies of relevant documents for onward presentation to the state Attorney General.
While the accused were being taken away by armed policemen, there was anguish and wailing from mainly women who said the suspects were innocent of the crime.