By Onuoha Endurance Ebelechukwu
It was since 2007 that a group of 17 members of the Movement For The Actualization Of The Sovereign State Of Biafra (MASSOB) involved in the agitation for a free Biafran Republic were remanded in Onitsha and Awka Prisons custody respectively over the alleged crime of Kidnap and murder and apparently forgotten and abandoned by their Former leader Ralph Uwazurike.
The 17 defendants has claimed that they have been in continued detention since 2007 without
trial and fair hearing.
The group had petitioned the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Mr
Abubakar Salami (SAN) asserting the 17 agitators have been incarcerated in Onitsha and Awka prisons for the last 10 years without bail and fair hearing in the court.
Those in detention are: Innocent Orji, Sabastine Amadi, Casmir Odakara, Ojemba Anyanwu, Eni Kalu, Ndubisi Okam, Ikechukwu Chikwem, Chukwuma Kalu, Chidiebere Ezekwem and Mmaduabuchi Asika.
Others are Uche Idikaigbo, Uchenna Nicholas, Peter Igbokwe, Ikechukwu Aghara, Ama Onuh,
Chukwuebuka Ikenwa (Hightension), Okwudiri Bassey, Chima Asor and Chinwendu Irondi.
Since 2007 till today, none of the detainees have been given audience, fair hearing, justice and judgment. The DPP and Judges of the State High Court Onitsha has used their regular absence in court which has resulted in prolonged adjournments as a delay tactic to frustrate the detainees and make them languish in prisons on awaiting trial.
“Now almost all of them have lost heir parents, children and relations and could not witness their
burial ceremonies. For instance, one of the detained Biafran, Innocent Orji, lost his father in 2012 and his mother in 2016,” they further lamented.
However, matters took a twisting turn yesterday as The Leadership of the Indigenous People Of Biafra Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who indicated interest in the matter stormed the court session through their team of Lawyers, BILIE HUMAN RIGHTS INITIVE, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA and troops of supporters and well-wishers as the final hearing and judgement was slated.
In his judge, the Judge weighed in details all the mechanisms, analogies and intricacies of Law and posited that for the prosecution to succeed in a case of murder, he must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed murder since the evidence presented must prove that 1) a death occurred, 2) the cause of death, 3) that the death was caused by an act of the defendant and 4) that the act was done with the intention of causing death.
Furthermore, councils to the 2nd to the 17th defendant questioned if the Prosecution is his final written submission has proved beyond reasonable doubt the allegation of murder and whether the prosecution in his final written submission proved that the murder was caused by an act of the defendants.
In his judgement, the judge posited that there was no enough evidence to substantiate the cause of death and that there was no direct evidence linking the defendants to the death of the deceased. The judge however read that where direct evidence of eye witnesses failed, the court can use circumstantial evidence but lamented the various loopholes and complicity inherent in the use of circumstantial evidence which must be narrowly examined where there is no direct evidence of eye witnesses pointing to the case of the Biblical story of Joseph of Egypt and the hidden cup in Benjamin’s bag of rice.
|Mr. Innocent Orji|
However, the Judge sentenced the 1st defendant Innocent Orji for three (3) years in Prison custody dating from when he was remanded.
Hon. Arinzechukwu Awogu, a Senior Special Assistant On Political Matters to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State expressed satisfaction on the judgement and lauded the insight and professionalism displayed by of the Judge in nipping the bug in the eye and ending the 10 years lingering legal battle.
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