A lawyer, Christopher Ajah, has been arraigned before an Ebonyi State Magistrate’s Court in Abakaliki, the state capital, over his alleged involvement in kidnapping in the state.
The accused, it was alleged, helped a kidnap suspect, Agbo Friday, to escape from prison custody.
Southern City News learnt that Friday was charged with kidnapping and remanded in correctional centre.
However, he was said to have escaped in controversial circumstances with the alleged assistance of the lawyer.
According to the police prosecutor, Mathias Eze, Ajah committed the offence on February 5, 2020, at the Magistrate’s Court 1, Abakaliki, in the Abakaliki Local Government Area.
He was arraigned on Friday on one count of kidnapping.
The police prosecutor, Eze, told the court that the offence was punishable under Section 18 (3) of the Ebonyi State Internal Security Enforcement and other Related Matters Laws Cap. 55, Vol. 2. Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.
The charge read, “That you, Christopher Ajah, on February 5, 2020, at Magistrate’s Court 1, Abakaliki, in the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did aid the escape of one Agbo Friday, who was charged with the offence of kidnapping and remanded in a correctional centre, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 18 (3) of the Ebonyi State Internal Security Enforcement and other Related Matters Law Cap. 55, Vol. 2, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.”
The seven man defence counsel, led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (Abakaliki branch), Festus Nweke, raised a point of preliminary objection to the charge on the grounds that the consent of the Attorney-General of the state was not first sought and obtained by the prosecution, failure of which rendered the charge incompetent and liable to be struck out.
In opposition, the prosecution counsel contended that he was not aware of the fact that the Ebonyi State Internal Security Laws contained a provision that required the consent of the AG.
He, however, conceded to the fact that the magistrate’s court had the jurisdiction to admit the defendant to bail, pending the filing of information at the High Court subject to 225, 83 (3) of the Ebonyi State Administration of Criminal Justice 2019.
The court, presided over by Nnenna Onuoha, after reviewing proof of evidence in support of the charge, admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N10,000, with one surety in like sum.
She said the surety must be a past or present NBA chairman, Abakaliki branch.
The matter was adjourned till March 30, 2020, for mention.