COMMENCEMENT of prosecution of embattled former Local Government Chairman of Asari-Toru, in Rivers State, Hon Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, before the Chief Justice of the State, Justice Adama Iyayi- Lamikanra, was yesterday, stalled as the CJ announced her withdrawal from the matter and further remanded the accused in prison custody.
This is coming as Flag- Amachree who is being accused of murder, was wheeled into the chief judge’s court with a stretcher with a medical doctor standing by him.
However, the accused could not enter any plea when the four charges were read to him as he was said to be unconscious. Lead Counsel to the accused, Emenike Ebete had told the court that the accused cannot take his plea following his current health state and moved an oral bail application.
But prosecution counsel, Godwin Obla, SAN, opposed the bail application citing section 220 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the River State. In her ruling, the trial judge, Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra rejected the bail application, announcing that the case will be assigned to another judge following several petitions against her to the Nigeria Judicial Commission, NJC, by the accused person. She adjourned the matter to November 27 this year.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the adjournment, Counsel to the accused, Emenike Ebete expressed displeasure over the ruling which he said was improper.
He said: “We made this point clear to the court. Before you can invoke section 220 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Rivers State, the accused person must be conscious, must know that a charge had been read to him. He will now make a decision to be silent, but in this circumstance where he didn’t know what happened and the court entered a plea of not guilty. And we made application for his bail but His Lordship said the matter for bail is before the court of appeal and he cannot go into that and then over-ruled again. On his part, Obla, SAN, stated that section 123 of the Criminal Procedure Law provides that a bail application in a capital matter must be moved in writing at a high court.
“The law says if an accused person keeps quiet, you enter a plea of not guilty for him. I just heard he has actually been prejudiced. If an information is read to you, you can only be prejudiced if they say you are guilty. “But in this case, the information is read to you and you are silent and they plead not guilty for you. Nobody moves an application for bail in a capital offence orally in a high court. The high court is not a magistrate court. Section 124 of the Criminal Procedure Law in Rivers State says an application for bail must be in writing”, he stated.