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High Court discharges 36 IPOB members detained for two years

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A Federal High Court sitting in Ebonyi State, have discharged 36 members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) detained for two years in the state for various offences.

Legal representative to the separatist movement, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who confirmed this in a statement on Saturday, said that the 36 IPOB members were initially charged before the Court with the offence of murder in charge No: HAB/29c/2021

Part of the statement reads, “These 36 innocent Biafrans were initially charged before the High Court of Ebonyi State sitting in Abakaliki, with the offence of murder in Charge No: HAB/29c/2021.

“After taking their plea, the matter proceeded to hearing. The prosecution fielded a total of six witnesses and closed its case. Upon the prosecution closing its case, we filed a No Case Submission which was duly adopted on the 15th June 2022 and consequently adjourned for ruling.

“On the date slated for ruling on the No Case Submission, the State ambushed us in court with a new information with charge No HAB/43c/2022, already fixed for plea in the same court that was to deliver a ruling on the No Case Submission. The defendants were charged on a 3 counts charge of unlawful possession of firearms, unlawful association and arson. Later the prosecution filled additional 3 counts charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace, carrying out warlike undertaking and robbery making the second charge a total of six counts.

“The said new charge was called up first and the defendants took their plea on same and were remanded before Ruling on the No Case Submission was delivered. Our No Case Submission was upheld and the defendants were consequently discharged in HAB/29c/2021.

“Trial commenced on the second charge HAB/43c/2022.

“The prosecution fielded a total of two witnesses in the second charge and closed its case. Upon the close of the prosecution’s case we filed a No Case Submission again. The said No Case Submission was adopted on the 8th day of November 2023 and consequently adjourned for Ruling.

“While the second charge was pending before the court, the prosecution yet again, filed another charge with Charge No: HAB/59c/2022 bordering on murder, against the same Defendants.

“Immediately we got information of the said third charge, we filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection against the said charge because it was clearly an abuse of court process and deliberately intended to subvert the course of justice and keep the Defendants in detention indefinitely.

“Today, the 22nd December, 2023, ruling was delivered on our No Case Submission, and all the defendants were discharged by the court.

“However, the Defendants were forced back to prison by the prison officials on account of the said third charge which is coming up for plea and hearing of our preliminary objection on 18th January, 2024.

“I deeply appreciate the dexterity and hardwork of Udoka Nwanku, Esq. and my other colleagues in chambers, in ensuring that we secure justice for these 36 innocent Biafrans.
I have no doubt whatsoever that there is more to this strange and unprecedented twist than meet the eyes. It is very obvious to discerning minds that someone somewhere, does not want these innocent Biafrans to regain their freedom despite being given a clean bill of health by the court. It simply connotes that judicial process is called in aid in gross violation of the rights of innocent Biafrans.

“I want to assure Ezigbo UMUCHINEKE that it is a matter of time, though we have activated administrative disciplinary process to ensure that officers in the temple of justice who are colluding in this gross perversion of course of justice, are deservingly punished, for which the details shall remain private.

“We shall not rest on our oars to ensure that these innocent Biafrans regain their freedom having been pronounced innocent by the court, as quickly as possible.”

 

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