Attorney-General Takes Over Terrorism Trial of Rivers Governor, Fubara’s Loyalists

The AGF instructed the Nigeria Police Force to stop the prosecution of the charges and hand over the case file to his office for a review of the indictment of the defendants.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has taken over the terrorism trial of five loyalists of the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

The AGF instructed the Nigeria Police Force to stop the prosecution of the charges and hand over the case file to his office for a review of the indictment of the defendants.

Fagbemi made this known on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Abuja where the five defendants had been facing trial for their alleged complicity in the burning of Rivers State House of Assembly and killing of a Divisional Police Officer (DPO).

At Tuesday’s resumption of the trial before Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, the AGF, through his counsel, David Kaswe, informed the court that he had not effectively taken over the trial since the IGP had yet to comply with his direction to transfer the case file to him.

He then requested an adjournment, so that the Police chief could comply with his instruction, read the case file, and take an appropriate position.

When Justice Olajuwon questioned IGP’s lawyer, Simon Lough SAN, on why the case file had not been forwarded to the AGF, he attributed the delay to administrative bottlenecks.

The judge, however, counselled that the AGF’s directive be complied with by the IGP.

Justice Olajuwon thereafter shifted the resumption of the trial to May 7, 2024.

The judge also ordered that the five defendants be returned to Kuje Prison in Abuja to continue their remand.

It would be recalled that the trial was also on Tuesday, March 20 scuttled by the heavy security that trailed the movement of the Biafra nation agitator, Nnamdi Kanu to the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The trial had stalled due to the inability of their lawyers to access the court, following the checkpoints mounted by operatives of the Department of the State Service, DSS that led to restrictions of movement in the court areas.

The five men charged with terrorism offences by the Inspector-General of Police, (IGP), are Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja ThankGod.

The IGP had on January 25 slammed the terrorism charges on them for allegedly invading, vandalising and burning down Rivers State House of Assembly last year.

They were accused of committing the alleged terrorism offences during the wake of political upheaval that rocked Port Harcourt in October last year.

In the charges filed against them, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, police claimed that, in addition to burning down the State House of Assembly, some of them killed a Superintendent of Police (SP), Bako Agbashim, and five police informants in the Ahoada neighbourhood.

The defendants are accused of killing Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu, and Saturday Edi, all of whom were police informants.

They are also suspected of utilising different cult groups, like the Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland, and Greenland, to wreak havoc on the state’s people and business interests.

They are accused of conspiring on October 29, 2023, at Moscow Road in Port Harcourt to commit acts of terrorism by invading, attacking, destroying, and burning the Rivers State House of Assembly, an offence punishable under Section 26 of the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.

The defendants have disputed the charges but have been ordered to be remanded in Abuja’s Kuje Prison due to their inability to persuade the court to grant bail and the gravity of the charges against them.

They are currently seeking to contest competence of the terrorism allegations against them, as well as the court’s territorial authority to hear the case.