FROM: EMMANUEL ADEYEMI, Lokoja
A Chief Magistrate Court, sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, on Tuesday, ordered the remand of a People Democratic Party (PDP) youth leader, Austin Okai, for allegedly committing sedition against the state government.
Okai is the National coordinator of PDP Youth Frontier.
National Publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye in a statement, same Tuesday, had alleged that the ruling party was harassing members of the opposition party for criticising the policies of the APC- led government, chronicling some past events across the country including the arrest of Okai who was described as the PDP youth leader.
When the case was brought to court, on Tuesday, the Prosecuting police officer, Olowu Gabriel said on April 7, Special Adviser to Governor Yahaya Bello on security, Jerry Omodara, had complained to the Commissioner of Police that one Austin Okai published an online report against the person of the Governor of Kogi State and his entire cabinet which he (Omodara) said was malicious, false, and a blackmail capable of causing the breach of the peace.
He said the police commissioner subsequently ordered the arrest of the accused which was carried out by the SARS operatives who took the statement of the accused and arraigned him before the court.
At the trial, on Tuesday, the Police First Information Report, charged Okai for inciting disturbance, criminal defamation, causing disappearance of evidence and sedition to wit inciting the people against the state government which is contrary to section 104, 392, 416 and 167 of the Penal code.
While pleading for the bail of the accused, the defence counsel, William Aliwo while citing second 36 (5), 35 (4) of the 1999 constitution and section 341 sub second 2,3 of the criminal
Code said an accused person is presumed innocent until proven quilty by a court of law and therefore urged the court to release the accused on bail.
But the prosecuting police opposed to the bail application saying police were yet to conclude their investigation, and that the court has no jurisdiction to try a sedition case even as he expressed fears that the accused may jump bail if granted.
Ruling on the application, the trial judge, Mr Levi Animoku said all the charges against the accused person were ordinarily triable by his court except that of sedition which he said, is outside the jurisdiction of his court adding it was only the High Court that has jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He also said the plea of the prosecuting police that police have not concluded investigations on the case and that the accused may jump bail or continue on the damaging publication were also noted , and therefore ordered the accused person be remanded in police custody till Thursday April 3 for mention .
He therefore adjourned the case till April 3 for mention.