By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA- ANAMBRA State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Monday, threatened to sue an Onitsha-based transport magnate, Chief Godwin Okeke, for libel.
Chief Okeke had alleged that the Attorney-General received N40 million bribe to discharge one of the persons accused of kidnapping him.
Okeke is the managing director of GUO Group, which operates a fleet of luxury buses plying various states of the federation.
Following the kidnap of Okeke in Onitsha on August 23, 2009, nine persons were arrested and remanded in prison custody.
After investigations by the police, the Attorney-General recommended the discharge of one of the suspects because, according to him, there was nothing connecting him with the kidnap of the transporter, following which he was discharged by a Magistrate’s Court.
Another accused person, said to be chairman of a vigilante outfit at Nando in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, in whose possession guns were allegedly found, was later granted bail, while the rest are still being remanded in prison custody in Awka.
However, Okeke petitioned the Presidency and the House of Assembly, alleging that the AG and Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, received bribe of N40 million to discharge the accused persons.
He also alleged that the Attorney-General and DPP were deliberately delaying the prosecution of the accused persons.
The AG and Okeke were recently invited by Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Judiciary during which they briefed the members on the issue.
Addressing newsmen in Awka, yesterday, the AG said following numerous enquiries from well-meaning persons who have heard the allegation, he decided to state his own side of the story.
He said: “Apart from one person against whom even the police found in their investigation is not connected with the kidnap, the Attorney-General did not discharge any other person.
“The state Attorney-General has the power under section 151 of the administration of criminal justice Law of Anambra State, 2010 to inform the Magistrate that, in his opinion, there is not sufficient evidence to support the charge against any particular defendant and the magistrate shall summon and discharge that person.
“In the case of kidnap of Chief Godwin Okeke, the Attorney-General exercised that power only in respect of one of those charged, against whom even the police in their investigation report found no case against and should not have been charged in the first instance.
“The other person, the Attorney-General directed should be discharged only in respect of the kidnap, but should be charged for unlawful possession of firearms. The Attorney-General gave these directives on August 8, 2011.
“The seven of them have since been charged to court in charge No: A/30C/2011 ( The state vs Emeka Eze & 6 others)”
“Chief Godwin Okeke is aware of this and has briefed a lawyer who has applied and I have given him a fiat to prosecute the charge, yet he has continued to defame the Attorney-General and Director of Public Prosecutions.”