The Federal Government has filed a three-count amended charge against seven persons, alleged to have been involved in the 2017 killings in Idumuje-Ugboko Community of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The filing of the amended charge was informed by the addition of four more defendants to the three persons earlier charged before the Federal High Court, Abuja, now raising the total defendants to seven.
The new four were recently arrested following a bench warrant issued by the court.
The defendants as named in the charge are: Nwochie Light, Aikhomo Omezi, Okey Ifejoku, Godwin Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko and Emeka Bidoku.
The seven defendants were said to have connived with others in May 2017 to unleash terror on the community by burning houses and killed one Cyprian Kumaorun within the community.
At the mention of the case on Wednesday, prosecution’s Shuiabu Labaran said although the business of the day was arraignment, not all the defendants were in court.
“Due to the uncertainty on the roads, the correctional centre in Kuje was unable to produce the 1st and 2nd defendant in court.
“We are also in receipt of an affidavit of facts stating why the third defendant is not in court. Considering the facts deposed to, we have no reason to counter it.
“However, we recall that this court did issue a bench warrant with effect from April 3, 2020 against some new defendants consequent upon which about four of them were arrested.
“This necessitated the prosecution to file further amended charges to bring the defendants to seven on the charge sheet.
“We therefore seek the leave of the court to amend the earlier charge,”Labaran said.
He sid since all the defendants were not in court, rather than have the arraignment in piecemeal, the case should be adjourned to allow all the defendants to be present in court for arraignment.
Labaran also urged the court to grant accelerated hearing in the case since it was terrorism related.
Lawyer to the third defendant, M.O Omorogbe had earlier told the court that his client was unable to attend court because he was “stuck in Asaba”.
“My client informed me that he received a text from the airline he was scheduled to fly with on Tuesday that the flight had been cancelled because of the #EndSARS protest.
“We have filed an affidavit of facts demonstrating the 3rd defendant’s inability to be in court and we apologise as the situation is beyond our control,” the counsel said.
Lawyer to the second defendant, Prof. Agbo Madaki equally told the court that his client has fulfilled his bail condition and what was left was for the court to sign the release warrant to be sent to the correctional centre.
Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter until October 30, 2020 for amendment of the charge and fresh arraignment to formally include the four new defendants.
The judge also ordered that the third defendant be present in court unfailingly on the next adjourned date as he had deposed to in his affidavit of facts.
Some counts in the charge read:
*That you, Nwochie Light, Aikhomo Omezi, Okey Ifejoku, Godwin Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko Alias Uwadiegwu and Emeka Bidoku Alias Onyeboundle of ldumuje-Ugboko Community, Aniocha Norih Local Government Area of Delta between May 18 and 25, 2017 at ldumuie-Ugboko Community, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta, within the jurisdiction of this court, did conspire with others still at large to commit acts of terrorism.
“You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.