Umuenyere Alayi autonomous community in Bende Council of Abia State has dragged Justice Benson Anya of the state’s judiciary before the National Judicial Council (NJC) for allegedly ordering the release of six prisoners ahead of serving out their terms.
His Worship, Mr. John Ukpai of Chief Magistrate Court in Uzuakoli, had sentenced the convicts to one-year prison imprisonment with hard labour after their trial and conviction on December 22, 2020.
They were convicted for stealing and selling about 100 plots of the community land under dispute valued at about N27 million
The prisoners were found guilty on each of the four-count charge preferred against them by the State Commissioner of Police in Suit No MU/18C/2019.
The charge bordered on conspiracy, stealing, malicious damage and breach of community peace. But it was alleged by the petitioners that Justice Anya ordered the release of the six prisoners, who were natives of Umuenyere community without due court process.
According to them, the six convicts did not appeal against the judgment of the lower court but went for judicial review.
Their release was confirmed at the Custodial Centre, Umuahia, where they were serving their prison sentences before they were freed and discharged by Justice Anya’s order.
The Guardian gathered that their said release from jail provoked the community into petitioning the NJC, urging the council to do the needful with a view to taking appropriate disciplinary action against the judge.
They convicts are Agu Eke, Onwukwe J. Ogbuja, Okorie Okorie, Mr. Christina Eke, Anya Eke Kalu and Agu Emmanuel and their ages were given as 52, 45, 45, 40, 29 and 42 respectively.
The Community had told the Magistrate Court during the trial of the six that the prosecution of the six followed reports made against them by the community to the state Police Command in 2019 over the land dispute.