By Dennis Agbo
An Enugu East Magistrate Court of Enugu State has upheld a no case submission made by the defence counsel in the case – CME/587c/2019-Commissioner of Police vs Henry Oputa & 19 Ors.
Chief Magistrate A. C. Mbah also discharged the defendants on the ground that the prosecution failed woefully in proving the ingredients of the two-count charge and that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses was discredited as a result of cross examination and rendered manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal can convict on it.
The defendants were arraigned before the court on April 6, 2023 on a two-count charge of conspiracy to belong to “an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 495(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 30, vol. II Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.
“And did register with RC 7458 with the name De Norsemen Kclub Inc. under the disguise of unlawful society on 6th and 7th days of September, 2019, gather themselves under the guise and held the meeting of Vikings Confraternity, an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 8 of Public Order (Prohibition of Secret Cults and their activities) Law No. 17 Revised of Enugu State of Nigeria 2009.”
The defendants were arrested at De Castle Hotel, Enugu on 7th September, 2019, during the convention of De Norsemen Kclub Inc. by the police. In their extra-judicial statements to the police, some of them admitted their membership of the club and insisted that it was not a secret cult, while about six others denied membership, asserting that they were in the hotel facility for other reasons.
Consequently, they were arraigned and they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecution counsel, Simeon Eze called two witnesses-ASP Godspower Owuzo and DSP Ekeleme Chidobe, then tendered six exhibits including the document from Corporate Affairs Commission.
But E.E. Anosike leading S.P.C. Nwokolo, Okoronkwo Uneke and S.A. Nwankwo as defence counsel, averred that from the totality of evidence led by the prosecution to prove the case, “we respectfully submit that the prosecution has not made out prima facie case to warrant the defendants to enter their defence.”
Giving judgment on the matter on June 1, Chief Magistate Mbah declared that prosecution could not prove its case.