An Abakaliki Magistrate Court, yesterday remanded a two-term member of the House of Representatives and the Labour Party senatorial candidate for Ebonyi South Zone in the 2023 election, Hon. Linus Okorie.
Recall that Okorie was said to have been kidnapped on Sunday morning, while driving out of his Abakaliki residence, and was on Monday morning brought to the Headquarters of the Ebubeagu Security outfit. It was further gathered that the police allegedly went to the office of Ebubeagu in the Old Government House and took custody of him.
He was arraigned for alleged offences bothering on false information, fraud, murder and felony.
In one of the three separate charges against Okorie, which dated differently, the police alleged that the suspect, in liaison with others attempted to defraud the government of its property valued N750,000.00, on August 2021, in the Abakaliki metropolis.
The Police Prosecutor, Ndukaku Chinagorom-Eze, told the court that the offences contradicted section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, Cap. A66 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2006 and section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, CAP A66 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.
The charges partly read,: “That you Linus Okorie ‘m’ and others at large, sometime in the month of August, 2021, at Layota Farm Abakaliki within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Advance Fee Fraud and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, CAP. A66 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.
“That you Linus Okorie ‘m’ and others now at large, on the same date, place and in the aforesaid Magistrate District did with intent to defraud, obtain National Identity Card Registration Machine valued Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N750,000.00), property of the Federal Government of Nigeria, through a medium of contract induced by false pretense and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 (3) of Advance Fee Fraud Act, CAP A66 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2006.”
In a heated argument, the counsel to Okorie, Barr Nomeh Chikaodiri, pleaded with the Magistrate to grant the suspect bail, on the grounds that as a senior citizen, he would not jump bail.
But the Prosecuting Counsel, ASP Chinagorom-Eze, objected to the bail application, saying that the suspect might thwart the court processes, because of his position in society.
The Magistrate, Justice I. Ogodo, remanded the suspect and directed that the matter be transferred to the Federal High Court Abakaliki, for competent adjudication and trial.
The matter was adjourned till November 4, 2022, report of compliance.
Reacting, the suspect’s Lead Counsel, Barr Chikaodiri, said Tuesday Court decision was an abuse and afront to judicial proceedings.
He said, “We have details of the charges already and we opposed the reading of the charges before the court, because in our humble view it constitutes an abuse of court processes.
“There is a judgement of a Federal High Court by Justice Ekwo that restrained the Nigeria Police and the Ebonyi State Government from arresting Hon. Linus Okorie and that judgement is still subsisting on the same subject matter.
“We raised an objection, which was overruled. But we will test it, we have seen it all and, by the grace of God the intendment of the charges is to keep him behind the bars. That’s the intendment and our client is a leading senatorial candidate in Ebonyi South and the essence of all this is to weaken him and his supporters.
“But at the end of the day, the law will take its course. The law is for everybody and no one is above the law. If there is a court judgement directing the parties to maintain status quo, the parties are under obligation to respect and obey that judgement and anyone not at peace with the court judgement, should go to Court of Appeal and not to resort to self-help. What the state government is doing now is to resort to self-help.
“We will either approach the Court of Appeal which earlier delivered judgement on the matter or think of other options. This is because what happened today is an abuse and an affront to judicial proceedings.”