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April 11, 2021

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Lawyer petitions police over fresh arrest of Delta community members

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An Abuja-based lawyer, Marvin Omorogbe, has petitioned the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department over the arrest of some members of Idumuje-Ugboko, a community in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how police recently rearrested two leaders who had been facing trial in Abuja over a crisis in the community.

Seven persons, including the president of the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU), Okey Ifejoku, had been charged with allegedly killing a man, Cyprian Kumaroun, in 2017.

The six other defendants in the terrorism charge are Godwin Aniemeke, Nonso Omefe, Dennis Nwoko, Light Nwochie, Aikhomu Omezi and Emeka Bidoku.

They were accused of conspiring with others now at large in May 2017 to unleash terror on the community by burning houses and killing Mr Kumaorun.

The case is still pending before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja but Messrs Ifejoku and Aniemeke were again arrested by cops on Thursday.

They are currently detained at the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Abuja.

Petition

Meanwhile, in a protest letter written to the head of the department, Mr Omorogbe condemned the arrest of the duo over a matter that is already in court. The letter is dated March 26.

“We are counsel to Mr Okey Ifejoku and Mr Godwin Aniemeke (the President General and Deputy President General of Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State), on whose authority we act and apply for their release.

“Our Clients are law-abiding citizens of Idumuje-Ugboko, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, who were arrested on March 25, 2021, and detained by officers from the Homicide section, Force Criminal lavestition Department. Abuja, led by DPS Duda Yolde Gabudo (Investigative Police Offcer), for the alleged murder of a certain Cyprian Kumaroun, an allegation for which they are presently standing trial before the Honorable Justice E.O Abang, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and for which they were also discharged by the Magistrate Court of Delta State, Issele-uku, after the Director of Public Prosecution, Delta Stute Ministry of Justice, Asaba, find that no prima facie case was made out against them to warrant them standing trial!” the letter read.

Mr Omorogbe narrated how his clients were first arrested and arraigned.

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“On March 19, 2020, Honourable Justice EO Abang admitted Mr Ifejoku to bail, having spent about six months in detention, both at the FCID Abuja, and at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Kuje. On October 30, 2020, Mr. Okey Efejoku, Mr. Godwin Akaba Aniemeke and five other members of the Idumuje-Ugboko community were arraigned before the honorable Justice EO Abang, and further amended Charge No: FHC/ABICR/11/19, for alleged terrorism and the murder of the same Cyprain Kumaroun.”

He said the officers disregarded information that the duo are already standing trial for the same allegation.

“It is particularly noteworthy to state that some of the arresting officers were part of the team that investigated our Clients before CHARGE NO: FHC/ABJ/CR/11/19 was filed against them by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation. Upon our visit to the FCID, the investigating police officer, DSP Dauda Yolde Guido, confirmed that our Clients were arrested for the alleged murder of Cyprain Kumar.

“From the foregoing, it is obvious that in the course of our Clients trial at the Federal High Court, the Court will, in one way or the other, determine whether our Clients are responsible for the death of Cyprian Kumaorun.

“Having submitted the alleged murder of Cyprian Kumaorun to the Federal High Court for determination, all parties must await the outcome of the Court’s decision, To do otherwise will amount to abuse of state institution, double jeopardy, malice and manifest bad faith.”

He then urged the Deputy Inspector General of Police “to use his good office to direct the immediate release of Messrs Ifejoku and Aniemeke”.

The spokesperson of the police, Frank Mba, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’s enquiries on the issue.

Genesis

PREMIUM TIMES, in a two-part series published in December, reported how a former lawmaker, Ned Nwoko, dislodged poor farmers from their farmlands to build a private university in the village.

This newspaper reported how the billionaire, in 2015, grabbed 90 hectares of land in Idumuje-Ugboko and how he used security personnel to intimidate members of the community who challenged him.

Mr Nwoko’s land grab later led to violence, a kingship tussle and rights violations in his hometown when some members of the community, led by his kin from the royal family, kicked against his demands for 90 hectares of land.

While there are pending lawsuits surrounding the approval of the land by the late traditional ruler, Mr Nwoko has started building the proposed STARS University on the 90 hectares.

On May 23, 2017, about 30 hoodlums disrupted a meeting of the community leaders called to address the crisis over the land.

But the youth of the community repelled the thugs. The exchange left many injured and Mr Kumaroun, a motorcyclist from Benue State, reportedly dead after being declared missing since the incident.

The police later arrested some persons over the violence, including the traditional ruler, his uncles and supporters.

Some were illegally detained before being charged to court while nine were taken into custody in Abuja on charges of terrorism.

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