6 face trial for Abia North rerun fraud

‚ÄĘ 10 others for arraignment

Six persons are to face prosecution for electoral fraud in the March 5 Abia North Senatorial rerun.

The police at Aba Magistrate Court will arraign the suspects today.

This came as police arrested 10 persons yesterday in connection with their alleged involvement in electoral irregularities.

The mercenaries were arrested over their alleged roles in the election which the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make a U-turn and announced a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate as winner is widely criticized.

Daily Sun learnt that although some individuals are putting pressure on the magistrate to grant the suspects bail, the court is insisting on due process being adhered to.

The police, it was gathered, said the Magistrate Court has no legal power to grant bail to the mercenaries, who were among several thugs that were imported from neighbouring states to manipulate the election and deliver victory to their benefactor.

The court, so far, seems at a cross roads on what to do.

Daily Sun learnt that pressure is being mounted on the presiding magistrate from high places to ensure that the mercenaries are granted bail today.

Those arraigned are Ndukwe Mba, 34, Kenneth Nze, 25, Chukwuebuka Dominic, 21, Christian Chukwu, 30, and Agu Okocha, 33. They were said to have been imported from the neighbouring states in the South-East.

Prosecuting DSP O. O. Uche stated in the charge sheet that the accused persons committed various offences that were contrary to some sections of the Electoral Act, and punishable under Section 131 a and b, among others.

He stated that on or at about March 5, at Etitiama Nkporo, in Ohafia Local government Area, during the senatorial rerun election of Abia North, they ‚Äúconspired among themselves to wit, illegal possession of firearms, possession of four locally made pistols without licence, two live cartridges, inflicted injuries on one Njoku Uka, a PPA party agent as well as threatened voters with guns and prevented them from voting.‚ÄĚ

While the first to third counts were offences punishable under armed robbery and firearms provisions, the fourth and fifth contravened some sections of the electoral act.

When the matter was brought before Justice L. O. Ugbaja on Tuesday, March 8, the judge denied the accused persons bail based on the charges brought before her by the prosecutor, which bordered on allegation of criminality and electoral offences despite their plea of not guilty.

DSP Uche argued that if the mercenaries were granted bail, it would be the end of the case since they were not indigenes of the state, but those hired to come and do dirty jobs.

After listening to the argument of the prosecutor, the magistrate ordered they should be remanded at Afara Prisons. She thereafter adjourned the matter to March 9, for ruling on the bail application.

However, on Wednesday, the presiding magistrate adjourned again for today for ruling on their bail applications.

Meanwhile, 10 more people who were allegedly involved in several electoral offences were yesterday arrested by the men of state security services and brought to police headquarters along Bende Road, Umuahia.

In a related development, following the controversial result of Saturday’s Abia North senatorial rerun poll, a non-governmental organisation, United for Democracy, has called on the authorities to probe the returning officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr. Ojike Nwankwo, for inconsistent decisions.

The group made call on Monday during a press conference in Abuja, on the outcome of the Abia North senatorial rerun poll.

According to Damien Onuoha, national coordinator of the body, the rerun poll was marred with ballot box and other voting materials being brazenly snatched, failure of the card reader sand other irregularities in Arochukwu and Ohafia councils.

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