From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The police authorities on Thursday arraigned a business woman, Chinyere Amuchinwa Igwegbe, before a High Court of the Federal High Court (FCT), Abuja, over allegations to blackmail former Governor of Imo State Dr Ikedi Ohakim.
In the said charge signed by Matthew Omasun and Rotshang Faith Dimka, the prosecution accused Amuchinwa of supplying false information to the police with the intention to defame the defendants.
Count one of the charges reads:
‘That you Chinyere Amuchinwa Igwegbe (f) of 7b Emeida Estate Apo, Abuja, FCT, on or about August 14, 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did furnish police authorities with false information and via allegations in a petition by your solicitors, Agala and Agala chambers to a public servant against (1) Dr Ikedi Ohakim (2) Chinedu Okpareke on allegations of criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, defamation of character, attempted kidnapping and threat to life punishment with imprisonment, which could not be substantiated and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 140 of the penal code laws of Northern Nigeria.’
In count two, the police accused her of furnishing the police authorities with false information via allegations in a petition against Dr Ikedi Ohakim on the false allegations that you paid Dr Ikedi Ohakim the sum of N5 million for the purchase of land in Lagos during the 2019 election, an allegations which could not be substantiated.
In count three, she was accused of “intentionally exposed your genital organs and intentionally caused distress to other parties and that you did so with a selfie video with intention of deriving sexual pleasure from such act and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 26(3) of the violence against persons (prohibition) Act, 2015.
The prosecution said the offences are punishable under section 140, of the Penal Code Laws of Northern Nigeria and section 26 (3) of the Violence Against Persons (prohibition) Act, 2015.
However, after the charges were read to her, she entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts.
Thereafter, her counsel in court, Ifeanyichukwu Nweze moved a formal application for her bail.
He urged the court to admit her to bail on account of the fact that the alleged offences against were ordinarily bailable.
Although the prosecution counsel, Faith Dimka did not opposed the bail application, she, however, urged the court to attached stringent conditions that would compel the defendant to appear in court.
In his ruling, Justice Halilu Yusuf granted her bail on the condition that she provides two sureties who are Nigerian citizens with reputable sources of income.
In his ruling, Justice Yusuf explained that ‘bail is a security in the form of cash or bond required by a court of law for the release of an accused person or prisoner who is to appear at a given time. It is a constitutional right of an accused person to be released on bail. Section 35 (4) of 1999, which guarantees the right of an accused person to liberty. It allows such an accused person to be released on bail upon such terms that are reasonably necessary to ensure that he/ she appears for trial at a later date.
‘The function of bail is to ensure the presence of an accused person at a trial so if there is any reason to believe that the accused is likely to jump bail, bail will properly be refused by the trial court in the exercise of its discretion in dealing with the application for bail as the case may be.
‘I have seen the charge against the accused person. I have listened to the reaction of the prosecution counsel, Faith Dimka who insist that conditions stringent enough must be put in place to ensure the attendance of the accused person at trial.
‘The offence upon which the accused person is being charged are ordinarily bailable offences. Bail indeed is at the discretion of the court taken into the account the competing interest of the prosecution and the defence counsel.
‘The 1999 constitution presumed an accused person innocent of whatever offence he is charged with until the guilt of such an accused person is established. Therefore, regardless of the nature of the charge against an accused person, such an person is presumed innocent. The only exception to this rule is the doctrine of last seen.
‘After a careful reading of the affidavit in support of the bail application and the legal arguments of the defence counsel and taken into account the submission of the prosecution counsel, the court hereby admits the accused to bail on the following terms:
‘The accused person shall provide two sureties who must be reputable Nigerians with established source of income and who must be residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
‘The sureties shall write an undertaking to produce accused person to court at all times until this case is disposed off.
‘The residential addresses of the sureties shall be verified by the registrar of this court.
‘The accused person shall equally deposit her travelling documents with the registrar of this court and shall only be entitled to be given such traveling documents upon an application to this court.’
Justice Yusuf with the consent of counsel adjourned the matter to October 28 for commencement of trial.