May 20, 2024

Court discharges 3 of 7 remanded over murder of Anambra monarch


By Nwabueze Okonkwo, ONITSHA

An Onitsha High Court No. 1 in Anambra state presided over. by Justice J. I. Nweze has discharged three of the seven accused persons earlier remanded for the kidnap and murder of the traditional ruler of Ogwusniocha in Ogbsru Local Government Area of Anambra state, Igwe Oliver Nnaji.

Those discharged among those remanded were Nduba Chibuzor, Ifi Silas Nwabuwa and Osadebe Sunday.

Discharging the three accused persons, Justice Nweze noted that there was no substantial evidence to prove that they were among those who conspired to abduct Igwe Nnaji and as such continue to try them would amount to breach of their fundamental human rights.

Four other accused persons still facing the arson and murder charges included Onyebuchi Ibenegbu, Chinedu Collins Nwonawi, Okwudili Ogana and Emeka Udom.

In the charge No. 0/32C/2022, state versus the accused persons, according to tC.C. Madukife, an Assistant Director in Anambra state Ministry of Justice,, the accused persons had on November 15, 2021, at Ogwuaniocha in Onitsha Judicial Division, conspired among themselves to commit felony to wit: Arson, kidnapand murder.

The prosecution further alleged that the accused persons had on the same date and venue while armed with guns, machetes and other offensive weapons, unlawfully set ablaze the dwelling house, other buildings and four cars belonging to one Igwe Oliver Nnaji.

The prosecution stated that the offences were contrary to Sections 495 (a), 315 (1) (a), 474, 274 (1) and 416 of the Criminal Code, Cap 36, Volume II, Revised Laws of Anambra state of Nigeria, 1991.

But in a swift reaction, the complainants, through their legal counsel, Chief Ikenna Egbuna SAN headed to the Court of Appeal sitting in Awka and filed a notice of appeal challenging the discharge of the three respondents.

In the appeal, the appellants argued that the lower court misdirected itself in law when it upheld the submission of no-caee-to-answer made on behalf of the defendants/respondents.

The appellants mentioned the particulars of the misdirection with reference to the evidence of the first Prosection Witness, PW!, Mrs. Ngozi Freda Nnaji who was cross-examined by the defence counsel, Oseloka Osuigwe SAN during which she stated that the accused persons were actually among those that invaded Igwe Nnaji palace, set it ablaze and abducted the monarch.

According to the notice of appeal, a look at exhibit P1 showed that the PW1, Ngozi Freda Nnaji had listed the defendants so discharged by the court on a submission of no case to answer as some of the people she saw on the day of the incident of November 15, 2021 who invaded the royal family house, set it ablaze and also abducted her husband.

According to the notice of appeal , “on June 20, 2023 the Investigating Police Officer, IPO who gave evidence as PW4 tendered without objection the statements of the respondents who were the 4th, 6th and 7th defendants at the trial as echibits 8 (a) and (b). The police investigations report was also admitted as exhibit P10”.

“The police investigations report also showed that dane guns, swords and charms were recovered from the defendants as echibits P12 to 15. A look at exhibit 8, the statement of Nduba Chibuzor which he volunteered to the police on March 22, 2022. Exhibit 8 (a) the statement of Ifi Silas Nwabuwa made to the police on April 9, 2022 in which he admitted that charms and daggers were recovered from him and exhibit 8 (b) the statement of Osadebe Kenneth. Sunday made to the police on the same date showed that the respondents admitted that they are members of the Lion Squad who committed the crime .The defendants are standing trial for playing various roles before and after the commission of the offense”.

“The police investigations report exhibit P10 also showed that the respondents were involved in the commission of the crime”.