An Imo Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Umuguma in Owerri West Magistrate District of Imo State has issued a bench warrant against a local vigilante leader, Mr Ogbonna Anthony popularly known as Shabba over his refusal to appear before it.
According to Barr Obinna Egwu of Chijioke of Obinna and Associates who is the prosecutor in suit no Ow/5524/2021 and titled “Commissioner of Police Vs Ogbonna Shabba Anthony”, the accused (Shabba) was arraigned for giving false information to the police.
The prosecutor pointed out that the court, during its last sitting, became worried by the absence of the accused each time the case was mentioned.
In his plea, Inspector Itodo Ogbonna, who is the IPO affirmed that since the defendant was absent, despite being served an arraignment notice, he should be slammed with a bench warrant to compel him to appear in court.
The court presided over by Sarah-Joe Ogbuagu granted the prayer, expressing satisfaction with the acknowledgement of the arraignment notice by the defendant. The court adjourned till Tuesday, November 30, 2021, for a report of compliance plea.
Inspector Itodo who is also of the Police Legal Department, AIG Zone 9 Umuahia, in an interaction with journalists shortly after the end of the court proceedings, noted that on “June 3 the accused gave information to the police that was later found to have falsely injured the reputations of Messrs Uzochi Anozie (m), Anozie Darlington Uzochukwu (m), Ulocha Daniel Chinedu (m), Ulocha Paul Onyekachi (m) and Uzoma Marshal Chukwudi.”
The IPO reported that the defendant’s “information exposed the aforementioned persons to hatred, as he, Shabba, publicly said that those people were members of Eastern Security Network (ESN) and were planning to burn down Umuguma Police Station and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 375 of the Criminal Code, Cap C38Laws of the Federation 2004 and applicable in Imo State of Nigeria.”
Adding his voice, a senior citizen and a community leader from Umuome Umuguma in the Owerri West Council area, Chief Clifford Ofoegbu, expressed concern over the defendant’s flagrant abuse of court orders as well as his penchants for intimidation, abuses and harassment of members of the community in the name of self-imposed local vigilante leader.
The community leader recalled that in 2014 when the same Anthony Ogbonna alias Shabba had a clear case of attempted murder and grievous assaults against the families of Ebochuo and Ohagorom, the accused also abused court arraignment orders until a bench warrant was issued against him.
He further revealed that the accused was equally involved in cases of intimidation, terrorism, threat to kidnap, cultism, threat to life and properties against the Ebochuo family of Umuokorienwaebo kindred of Umuome, Umuguma town of Owerri West LGA as being represented by Pastor Chuks Uzoma Ebochuo.
Reacting, Anthony Ogbonna alias Shabba described all the allegations against him as frivolous and pure envy.
He added that all the court orders issued were received by his lawyer whom he claimed attended to them all.