By Alemma Aliu
BENIN CITY—THE magistrate court sitting in the Oredo Magisterial District has acquitted 14 persons accused of contravening the Edo State government law banning illegal collection of levies and tolls.
Osaifo Omoruyi and 13 others were arraigned before the court for collecting money from unsuspecting members of the public thereby committed an offence punishable under the criminal laws of the state.
They were also accused of conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of the peace violating the order of the state government that no individual should collect levies or tax and committed an offence under Section 249 (d) of the Criminal code cap 48 Vol II of Edo State.
However, in its ruling, the Chief Magistrate (Mrs) M. U. Iluobe ruled against the state government on no case submission which was the argument of the accused.
As at the time of this report, the victims have already filed a case of abuse of fundamental human rights against them in a Benin High Court.
In her ruling, Iluobe said the prosecution could not present enough witnesses to prove their case as they presented only one witness.
“Consequently, this court hereby upholds the submission of no case to answer made by each learned counsel to each accused person.
“This charge is hereby dismissed pursuant to Section 286 of the Criminal Code and each accused person is hereby discharged for the offence of conspiracy punishable under Section 517 and offence of conduct likely to cause breach of peace in a public place under Section 249 (1) (d) & (3) 0f the Criminal Code.”
Counsels to the first accused, Osagie Obayuwana argued that the location where the suspects were arrested was a private park operated by a private concern duly licensed by the state government which operational license was still valid when officials of the Edo State Internal Revenue Service, EIRS, and security operatives swooped on them.