By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HAR-COURT—A Port Harcourt Magistrates’ Court in Rivers State, yesterday, ordered the former Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Ojukaye Amachree, back to prison till May 4, when it would receive legal advice from the Director, Public Prosecution, DPP, on the the murder charge against him.
Amachree is standing trial for alleged murder of one Mr. Smart Soberekon in his council.
He also doubles as a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC in the state.
Chief Magistrate, I. O. Agbesor, on Wednesday, remanded Amachree temporarily in prison till yesterday, when the issue of jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter was ruled on.
At the resumed sitting, yesterday, Agbesor, in his ruling, held that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that the charges were capital offences.
He said that he has, however, been empowered by the Criminal Miscellaneous Procedure Law of Rivers State section 3 and 4, to remand the accused person pending a report from the DPP.
The chief magistrate ordered that the original case file be sent to the DPP through the court registrar, while the accused person was remanded in prison till May 4.
But counsel to the accused person, Mr Ken Atsuete, said the ruling of the court was misconstrued.
Atsuete, who addressed newsmen shortly after the ruling, said it was wrong for an accused person to be remanded without plea being taken.
He said: “The court has given a ruling and the ruling of the court is clearly that the Magistrate Court does not have jurisdiction, but said, never-the-less, that he has the power to remand under the Criminal Miscellaneous Procedure Law of Rivers State.
“The magistrate said he has exercised that power and that he has decided to order that the accused be remanded even though we feel that it is a wrong decision because the plea of the accused has not been taken. This means that the accused has not said whether he is guilty of the allegation or not and that is the law.
“And where the Magistrate orders that the accused person be remanded without the plea of the person taken, that is a very wrong step but we will address it legally. I think it is a legal issue and it will be handled legally.”