By Olalekan Awojodu
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja Wednesday ordered for the re-arraignment of seven persons, charged with alleged terrorism acts.
The trial judge also fixed Oct. 30 for hearing of the application and amendment of charges.
At the resumed hearing, the prosecution counsel, Mr Shuiabu Labaran told the court that although the business of the day was arraignment, not all the defendants were in court.
The Federal Government had earlier filed a three-count amended criminal charge against seven persons, alleging them of their involvement in the killing of indigenes of Idumuje-Ugboko Community of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta in 2017.
Initially, the charge had involved three persons, but following a bench warrant issued by the Federal High Court, Abuja, four additional suspects were arrested and added to the charge.
In the allegation, the seven defendants were said to have connived with others in May 2017 to unleash terror on the community by burning houses and killed one Cyprian Kumaorun within the community.
The defendants as named in the charge are Nwochie Light, Aikhomo Omezi, Okey Ifejoku, Godwin Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko and Emeka Bidoku.
On the whereabouts of the 1st and 2nd defendant in court, Labaran told the court that it was due to the uncertainty on the roads, saying the correctional centre in Kuje was unable to produce them.
“We are also in receipt of an affidavit of facts stating why the 3rd defendant is not in court.
“Considering the facts deposed to, we have no reason to counter it.
“However, we recall that this court did issue a bench warrant with effect on April 3 against some new suspects’ consequent upon which about four of them were arrested.
“This necessitated the prosecution to file further amended charges to bring them on the charge sheet.
“We therefore seek the leave of the court to amend the earlier charge,”Labaran submitted.
He, however, added that since all the defendants were not in court, rather than have the arraignments in piecemeal, the matter should be adjourned to allow all the defendants present in court for arraignment.
The counsel also prayed the court for an accelerated hearing of the matter since it was terrorism related.
Counsel to the 3rd defendant, M.O Omorogbe had earlier told the court that his client was unable to attend court because he was stuck in Asaba.
Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Prof. Agbo Madaki had also told the court that his client had fulfilled his bail condition and what was left was for the court to sign the release warrant to be sent to the correctional centre.