Friday, August 26, 2011
Uwazuruike, 280 MASSOB members arraigned for treason
The leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and 280 members of the group were on Thursday arraigned before an Enugu Magistrate’s court for treason.
The 280 MASSOB members were arrested on Wednesday at President Hotel, Enugu venue of an award ceremony in honour of ailing ex-Biafra leader, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu. But Uwazuruike was detained by the police when he went to the police station to secure their release.
Apart from the treason charge against them, the prosecution told the court that the MASSOB activists had breached public peace and belonging to an unlawful organisation.www.mannastores.com
The prosecution counsel, Damian Njoku, who read the charge sheet, said the suspects allegedly conspired to remove the governors of the South-East on Wednesday at the Presidential Hotel.
He submitted that they conspired to commit treasonable felony and cause breach of public peace on the same day and venue of the award ceremony.
But Njoku argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case, and therefore, requested that the case be transfered to the Director of Public Prosecution and the Attorney-General of Enugu State for their advice.
He also argued that since the court had no jurisdiction to handle the case, the suspects were not also constitutionally empowered to plead guilty or not. He prayed the court not to grant the accused persons bail.
But the defence counsel, Chika Eze, in his oral application for bail, argued that the offences preferred against the accused were bailable.
Eze said the accused would not jump bail, and prayed the court to grant them temporary freedom. He also urged the court to allow them plead guilty or not, a prayer that was objected to by the prosecution counsel.
Rejecting the oral bail application, the trial magistrate, Dennis Ekoh, supported the prosecution counsel’s proposition that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
He, therefore, ordered that the MASSOB leader and his members be remanded in Enugu Prisons and adjourned the case sine die.
Speaking to journalists after at the court premises, Uwazuruike vowed to continue with the struggle.
He said, “We will continue to oppose injustice in Nigeria; that is why we want to check out of Nigeria. In Nigeria, there is no justice.”
Meanwhile, Civil Liberties Organisation and International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law condemned the arrest of the MASSOB members.
“The action of the law enforcement agents is a grave violation of the people’s rights to freedom of association, right to peaceful assembly and freedom of movement,” the group said in statement by its Anambra State branch Chairman, Mr. Aloy Attah.
The intersociety, also flayed the attempt by security agents to arrest Odimegwu-Ojukwu’s wife, Bianca.www.mannastores.com