…Remanded in Keffi prison
By Henry Umoru & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — A whistleblower, Mr. Ahmed Echoda, has landed himself in trouble after he allegedly gave wrong information that led the Nigeria Police Force to raid the Abuja home of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Echoda, who is 50 years old, was arraigned before an Upper Area Court sitting at the Gudu District of Abuja, yesterday, and was subsequently remanded in Keffi Prison.
Chief Magistrate Umar Kagarko ordered that he should remain in prison custody till June 5 when his bail request will be considered.
The defendant is facing a one-count charge of criminal conspiracy and giving false information to mislead the police, contrary to section 97(1) and 140 of the Penal Code Law.
His trial was endorsed by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.
Police told the court that Echoda’s alleged accomplice, identified as Maiwada Adamu, is currently at large.
Specifically, the charge against the defendant read: “That you, Ahmed Echoda, age 50 of 44, Living Truth Street, Masaka, Nasarawa State and one Maiwada Adamu, now at large, did conspire among yourselves by informing the office of the IGP at Guzepe Area of FCT Abuja that house, 10, Ganges Street, Maitama FCT, Abuja occupied by Oliver Ogbenyi is being maintained and used for criminal activities, including keeping of arms and ammunition. Unfortunately, after the police carried out diligence execution of the search warrant, no incriminating items were found there. You by such action mislead the police and hereby committed the above offences.”
Shortly after the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge, he sought and secured permission of the court to speak from the dock.
Echoda told the court that the Police had yet to establish to him how he passed the alleged false information to them.
“They (Police) have not proved that I was the one that passed the said information to them. How did I pass it to them?” he queried.
“They need to tell this court how I blew the whistle on them. I never at any time passed, either written or verbal information, to the Police,” the defendant insisted.
Spirited efforts by his lawyer, Mr Peter Ugwuoke, to secure his bail after the arraignment proved abortive.
Police prosecutor, Mr. David Taiwo, objected to the bail request, maintaining that the offence the defendant committed was not ordinarily a bailable one.
He added that the accused person could tamper with police investigations since his alleged accomplice is still on the run.
Ekweremadu hails arraignment
Also, yesterday, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu commended the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over the prosecution of one of the false whistleblowers, whom police alleged misled them into raiding his official guest house in Abuja on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Ekweremadu said such would serve as a lesson to other false whistleblowers and agencies of government.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichkwu, Ekweremadu said: “I want to give the police hierarchy the benefit of doubt that it did not authorise the impunity, harassment, and witch-hunt executed by police officers on my official guest house last Friday, and that the police were misled.
“I hope the swift arraignment of the alleged whistleblowers will be emulated by other security and anti-corruption agencies and also serve as a deterrent to those who lend themselves as willing tools to people to intimidate and persecute others as well as tarnish their image for whatever motives.
“But beyond the arraignment, I urge the police to dig deeper to determine if there were influential masterminds behind the incident as a bird does not dance by the roadside without a drumbeater somewhere in the bush.
“Perhaps, if the attempt on my life on November 17, 2015 was taken seriously by the security agencies, those who desperately seek to destroy me by all means possible would have been fished out or had a rethink.”
The police accused defendant of “criminal conspiracy and giving false information to mislead public servant contrary to Section 97 (1) and 140 of penal Code Law”.
The charge signed by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ibrahim Agu read: “That on 26/05/17, at about 0900hr, you, Ahmed Echodo ‘M’ aged 50 years, of No. 44 Living Truth Street, Masaka, Nasarawa State and one Maiwada Adamu now at large did conspire within yourselves by informing the Office of IGP, STS at Guzape Area of FCT, Abuja that house No 10 Ganges Street, Maitama, FCT, Abuja occupied by Oliver Ogenyi is being maintained and used for criminal activities, including keeping of firearms and ammunitions.
“Unfortunately, after the police carried out diligent execution of the search warrant no incriminating items were found therein. You by such action misled the police and hereby committed the above offences”.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The bail application by the defendant’s counsel, Mr. Peters Ugwuoke, was opposed by the police prosecutor, ASP Ismail Taiwo.
The Chief Upper Area Court judge, Umar Kagarko, after listening to the arguments, adjourned till June 5, 2017 for ruling on the bail application.
It would be recalled that Senator Ekweremadu had on May 3, 2017, read to the Senate in plenary a written, but anonymous tip-off, on a plot to plant incriminating sums of foreign currencies, arms, and ammunitions in a house linked to him under the pretext of the whistle blower policy.
The aim, according to the source, was to rubbish, arrest, prosecute, and ultimately remove Senator Ekweremadu from office.