Raphael Ede, Enugu
A Magistrate Court, in Enugu North Magisterial District, Tuesday, ordered the Attorney-General of Enugu State and the Nigeria Prisons Service to produce members of Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) incarcerated since May 24.
The 32 MASSOB-BIM members were arrested on May 22 during their celebration of Biafra anniversary in Enugu, and were subsequently arraigned on treason charges. Since then, the matter has suffered two adjournments on the instance of the Police failure to produce the accused persons in court.
When the matter came up on Tuesday, it was same story as none of the accused persons was brought to court, prompting the defence counsel, C. O. Obiekwe to engage the Attorney General and the Nigeria Prisons Service verbal war.
He told the court that the Federal Government in collaboration with the Attorney-General of Enugu State and the Nigeria Prisons “are doing everything not to set them free, knowing that they have not committed any offence.
“We are practicing democracy not the dictatorship that is being displayed in this matter. This is one of the cases that portrays this government as anti-democracy
“I have gone to the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, and I was told in confidence that they have concluded their job and sent their report to the Attorney-General.
“However, every effort I made to see the Attorney-General has failed. I have gone there up to six times. The last I went, he said he does not want to see anybody, that he was tired.”
Obiekwe did not spare the Nigeria Prisons, who he insisted had no genuine reason not to bring the accused persons to court.
“Prison authorities have no genuine reason, the other time they said they had no staff, this time no vehicle. By my checks, they brought 17 other accused persons to court today, so why did they not go back to bring the other 32 persons.
“These people are freedom fighters, they have not committed any offence known to law; that’s why I call this government dictators, I’m ready to face them.”
However, Mr. Ude Ambrose, a Senior Prison Assistant, who was in court said the accused persons were not produced owing to logistics challenges.
“We have over 102 inmates going to court today. Some went to Obollo-Afor, Amagunze, and several other places. So, there is shortage of vehicles.
“We prefer Fridays, because we have less cases. Other days we used to have 60-40, but today, we have the highest number. Most of our vehicles are engaged,” he told the court.
After listening to them, the presiding Magistrate, His Worship Okoro Sam ordered that the accused persons must be brought to court on July 26.
“It is hereby ordered that the accused persons be brought to court on the next adjourned date for the Attorney-General’s advice,” the court held.