Ebonyi PDP crisis: Magistrate under trial for granting suspects bail

A Chief Magistrate in Ebonyi state judiciary, Chinedu Agama is currently under trail for granting suspects bail in the leadership tussle of the state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Agama was also transferred out of the state judicial headquarters in Abakaliki to Onueke, Ezza South local government area of Ebonyi state by the state judicial management over the bail of the suspects.

After his transfer, the state Judicial Service Commission(JSC) set up panel to probe him. The panel has Magistrate U.N.O Nweze as Chairman, Magistrate Job Orude Secretary, Bar. Fidelis Amaechi Iteshi and two females as members.

Recall, there have been supremacy battle between two factions of the state PDP led by Chief Onyekachi Nwebonyi and Chief Fred Udeogu.

The Udeogu faction had gone to takeover the party secretariat along Abakaliki/ Enugu highway on the claim that it had court order to do so leading to the arrest of its Youth Leader, Obinna Iteshi, a Lawyer.

Iteshi, and two others, Ngamgbo Chukwunonso and Nwakpa Chibuzor, who were also arrested by the police that stormed the secretariat to disperse the supporters of the two factions that clashed, were immediately arraigned before the State Magistrate Court, sitting in Abakaliki presided over by Chinedu Agama.

While Iteshi was arrested within the party Secretariat, the second and third accused persons, were said to be returning from exams, when they were picked up by the police.

They were arraigned on four counts charges bothering on felony, conspiracy, breaking and entry, among others.

The Police Prosecutor, ASP Ayeni, told the court that the offences were punishable under sections 516A(a), 411(b), 451(1) and 12 of the Criminal Code Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009 and Enonyi State Internal Security Enforcement and Related Matters Law, Cap. 55, Vol. 2, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.

The Presiding Magistrate, Chinedu Agama, granted the suspects bail in the sum of N50,000.00 each, with one surety, in like sum using section 224 of Administrative Criminal Justice Law of Ebonyi State 2019 and adjourned the matter till February 15, 2021, for report of compliance.

However, the panel commenced sitting yesterday with Chinedu Agama facing them. Journalists and Lawyers were barred from witnessing the panel’s proceeding.

The Panel Chairman said the reason for barring journalists and the Lawyers from the proceeding, was that the issue was an in house matter.

He said: “What we are doing here is a very small Administrative Panel to look into complaints against one of us and of course, you know in organization like this there are some inbuilt mechanism to look into complaints against supposedly erring staff.

“So, not everything that requires to be made public in court at a stage. If it were judicial panel, probably we allow journalists to come in and cover the proceedings but this one is an in house something.

“We are a committee set up by the judicial service commission. So, we are going to report back to them. It is them that will now look at what we have done, look into it critically and take a decision”.

State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Cletus Ofoke, said he was not behind the ordeal of Agama contrary to speculations.

“The allegation that I am the one behind what is going on is unfounded. I want to inform you maybe, you didn’t know before now that I am a member of Judicial Service Commission. We received a report on the abuse of office in respect of the man and that does not amount to Attorney General masterminding everything, not at all. And for your information, I am not a member of PDP and you know the matter, they said that someone broke into PDP secretariat or whatever. So, what is my business with PDP.

“My own is that we have the Judicial Commission and we have rules and the Magistrate and other court staff are the employees of the Ebonyi state Judicial Service Commission. I am not even the Chairman of the commission. So, the allegation is unfounded and a useless one. I am a member of APC, a card carrying member of APC. So, they should leave me out of their trouble, I am not in PDP. So, they should sort themselves out”, he noted.

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