Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Police in Anambra State have arraigned a chieftain of Biafra Independence Movement/Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, BIM/MASSOB and five others for loitering without lawful excuse during the March 9 Anambra State House of Assembly election.
The six persons who were arrested on March 9, by the police at Obosi town in Idemili North Local government of the state were arraigned before an Ogidi Magistrate Court presided over by M. O. Kanu.
They were detained at the State Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Awka before their arraignment.
In the charge No MID/123c/2019, brought against them by the prosecuting police officer, C. C. Ugwu said the accused persons, Onovo Chidozie (52), Kalu Justus (45), Paul Okereke (42), Chidiebere Okorie (42), Ifeanyi Eziukwu (25) and Arinze Igbani (42), were said to have on March 9 at Obosi within Idemili North Magisterial District, did loiter without lawful excuse, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 129 (i) and punishable under Section 129 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
When the charge was read to them in the court, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
The defence counsel, Charles Ugo and Pat Okafor therefore, made an oral application for their bail and pleaded with the court to allow only one or two sureties take all the accused persons on bail at once.
However, the prosecution did not object to their bail application because according to him, the offence was a bailable one.
In his ruling, the trial Magistrate, Kanu granted them bail in the sum of N50,000 each with one surety each in the like sum, adding that each of the sureties must produce three-year tax receipt, two recent passport photographs each and an affidavit of means.
The magistrate adjourned the matter to June 19, for hearing.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court session, Igbani who is the BIM/MASSOB regional administrator for Awka South, as well as a member of Biafra National Council of Elders, said he was driving with other accused persons from Awada area of Obosi where he resides to Okpoko area of Onitsha where his polling unit is located to cast their votes as directed by the BIM/MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and they were intercepted by a team of policemen near Obosi police station who arrested them.
Igbani noted that when they were taken to the State CID, Awka later in the day, from Obosi police station for detention, one of the Assistant Commissioners of Police queried the Divisional police Officer at Obosi over the rationale behind their arrest, adding that it was regrettable that some over-zealous policemen had formed the habit of harassing and extorting their members unduly in the state.
Also speaking, the regional administrator for Anambra South, John Nwodo (a.k.a. Governor), called on Anambra State Commissioner of Police to release two of their members still in police custody with immediate effect, warning that security agencies should not mistake BIM/MASSOB’s non-violence posture as a sign of weakness and capitalise on it to harass their members indiscriminately.