*Police say no
*Court discharges, orders re-arrest, re-arraignment of accused persons

By Emma Amaize

A staffer of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Mr. Jude Obi, whose 33-year-old wife, Mrs. Grace Obi, was arraigned at a Magistrate Court, Otor-Udu, Delta State, for allegedly masterminding her own kidnapping and collecting N1.5 million ransom from him, has pleaded with the court to free his wife.

Mrs. Obi and Ogbona Onu were arraigned on  March 21, on a three-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
Mr. Okoye, however, told the court, “I want to go home since it is a family affair and the person involved is my wife. I do not want a broken home.”

He said he was the one who reported the matter in the first instance at the Ovwian Police Station and no longer wants to prosecute the case, having forgiven the accused persons.

The DPR staffer also told the court that he had sworn to an affidavit to that effect, which he submitted at Ovwian Police Station, but the police insisted on charging the matter to court. It was learnt that the wife needed money for her business, but her persistent plea to the husband to give her money was rebuffed, which made her to resort to the kidnapping  and extortion.

She was also said to be pregnant and the man did not want her to go through the ordeal of trial. Based on the formal withdrawal of the matter by the complainant against the accused persons, Senior Magistrate Duku Tadafe discharged the accused persons and struck out the case. Responding to the order, Commissioner of Police, Delta State, Mr Ikechukwu Aduba,  said the magistrate had no authority to discharge and acquit a kidnap suspect and challenged her to prove otherwise.

The magistrate reportedly  realized her error and got Mrs. Obi and Onu back to the court on March 26 for fresh arraignment, but the police prosecutor, Corporal Godwin Ovuefere,  was said to have refused to  prosecute the matter, saying his superior, who had written the court for the formal proceedings of March 21, directed him to  steer clear.

Left with no option, Senior Magistrate Tadafe made a fresh order, April 1, nullifying her March 21 order that discharged and acquitted the accused persons.

National coordinator of the Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, FJHD, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, whose organization conducted inquiry into the matter in conjunction with the Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged, CENTREP, said the police should comply with the order of the court to re-arrest and re-arraign the accused persons, rather than castigating the magistrate.

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