January 31, 2024

Rivers Crisis: Court orders arrest of Fubara’s Chief of Staff, 5 others

Rivers Crisis: Court orders arrest of Fubara’s Chief of Staff, 5 others

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA–The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, issued a warrant for the arrest of the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the Governor of Rivers State, Hon. Edison Ehie.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, equally ordered the arrest of five other persons who were accused of complicity in the alleged invasion, vandalization and burning down of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

Aside from Ehie who was hitherto the factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and a loyalist of governor Siminalayi Fubara, those the court ordered their arrest, are; Jinjiri Bala, Happy Benedict, Progress Joseph, Adokiye Oyagiri and Chibuike Peter a.k.a Rambo.

The order followed an ex-parte application that was brought before the court by the Inspector General of Police, IGP.

The application was predicated on sections 37, 113, 114, 84 and 184 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 and section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as section 32 of the Police Act 2020.

A Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Mr. Simon Lough, SAN, who moved the application on Wednesday, told the court that the six defendant are currently at large.

He told the court that the defendants were involved in conspiracy, arson, terrorism, attempted murder and murder of a Superintendent of Police, SP Bako Agbashim and five other police informants in Rivers State.

Police gave names of the deceased informants as; Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu and Saturday Edi.

The court held that it was persuaded by submissions of the police lawyer as well as an affidavit that was attached in support of the application marked: FHC/ABJ/ CS/12/2024.

Consequently, Justice Nwite, aside from declaring the defendants wanted, ordered that upon their arrest and investigation, they should be brough before the court for trial.

It will be recalled that the court had on January 25, remanded five men in prison custody over their alleged involvement in the burning down of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

The defendants; Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod, who were docked before trial Justice Bolaji Olajuwon, pleaded not guilty to a seven-count terrorism charge that was preferred against them by the Nigeria Police Force, NPF.

The defendants, who were said to be loyal to Governor Fubara, had in the wake of the political crisis that rocked the state in October last year, allegedly invaded the House of Assembly complex in a bid to frustrate an attempt to impeach the governor.
They were in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, equally accused of killing SP Agbashim and the five police informants at Ahoada community in Rivers State.

The prosecution accused the defendants of using various cult groups, namely; Supreme Vikings Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland and Greenland, to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.

Even though the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ehie, was not listed in the charge, however, he briefed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Oluwole Aladedoye to appear before the court on his behalf, stressing that his name was mentioned in some counts in the charge.

He challenged police for declaring that he was at large with other suspects.

Nevertheless, trial Justice Olajuwon said he was not minded to entertain any argument from Hon. Ehie’s lawyer since he was not yet a defendant before the court.

The court ordered that the defendants should be remanded at the Kuje prison till February 2 when their bail applications would be heard.