Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered that the five Port Harcourt-based men arraigned by the Federal Government on terrorism charges be remanded at Kuje Correctional Center in Abuja.
They are to remain in custody till February 2 when their respective bail applications would be heard and determined by the Judge.
The five defendants are, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod.
In the seven-count charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed terrorism offences by invading, vandalizing and burning down Rivers State House of Assembly during the wake of political crisis that rocked Port Harcourt in October last year.
Beside allegedly burning down the State House of Assembly, they were also accused of killing a Superintendent of Police, (SP) Bako Agbashim and five police informants at Ahoada community of the state.
The police informants alleged to have been killed are Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu and Saturday Edi.
The Federal Government also accused them of using various cult groups, namely, Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland and Greenland to unleash mayhem on the people of the state and their commercial activities.
However, when the charge sheet marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024 was read to them, they all pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Although, the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie was not listed in the seven -count terrorism charges, he was however represented in court by Oluwole Aladedoyin (SAN) on the ground that his name featured prominently in the alleged offences.
He challenged the allegations that he was at large alongside other suspects.
Justice Olajuwon did not however allow further arguments on the ground that he was not yet a defendant in the charges.
Shortly after the arraignment, the leader of the prosecuting team, Audu Garba applied for a date for the trial of the defendants.
However, Lukman Fagbemi (SAN), who stood for Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Prince Lukman Oladele who are 1st and 2nd defendants, sought to move applications for their bail on the ground that they have been in the police custody since last year.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Audu Garba vehemently opposed the request to move the bail applications of the defendants on the reason that he had just been served with the bail applications and needed time to study them and file counter affidavit.
Justice Olajuwon agreed with the prosecution lawyer that the bail applications were not ripe for hearing and fixed February 2, 2024 for hearing of all bail applications.
Pending hearing and determination of the bail applications, the Judge ordered that the five defendants be taken to Kuje Correctional Center on remand and be returned to court on the adjourned date.
The defendants were specifically alleged to have, on October 29, 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt conspired to commit acts of terrorism by wilful destruction of public properties by invading, attacking, destroying and burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly, an offence punishable under section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
Part of the charges read, “That you, Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, business man of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert conspired together to commit felony to wit: acts of terrorism by wilful destruction of public properties by invading, attacking, destroying and burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 26 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.
“That you Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37 years, business man of Street 5, Radio Estate Ozuoba, Port Harcourt, Prince Lukman Oladele, 47 years of Okocha Street, Port Harcourt, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Hon Edison Ehie and others now at large on 29th of October 2023 at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, while acting in concert and armed with dynamite, iron rods, lighters and other offensive weapons willfully and maliciously invaded, attacked and set fire on the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004″.