BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
The Police in Ebonyi State have arraigned a former Commissioner in the state, Paul Okorie and five others for allegedly conducting themselves in a disorderly manner during the recently held March 18 Governorship and State House of Assembly election. The 65-year-old ex- Commissioner was dragged before an Abakaliki Magistrate’s Court alongside others, including Ikechukwu Emmanuel, aged 28; Chukwuemeka Nwaize, 45; Elendu Nwanja, 43; Okoro Johnson, 49; and Ogbu Nwenwu and slammed with one-count charge of misdemeanour.
The charge read, “That you (defendants) and others now at large on the 18th day of March 2023 at Okposi, in Ohaozara Local Government Area, in the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit misdemeanour to wit: disorderly conduct in election, malicious damage and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 517A(a) of the Criminal Code Cap 33 volume1 Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.”
However, the six accused persons, in the suit marked MAB/180c/2023, pleaded not guilty to the alleged charges. Their counsels, Vincent Okechukwu and Onyekachi Eni pleaded with the court to grant the defendants bail in most liberal terms.
The lawyers prayed the court to grant Paul Okorie, the first defendant, a bail on self recognition, considering the fact that he is a highly placed person, having served as a Commissioner in the state, and promised that he would not jump bail. For the other defendants, the counsel pleaded with the court to allow one reliable surety stand bail for them and opted to personally recommend the surety in writing.
The oral bail applications were opposed by the prosecutor, Inspector Chinedu Mbam with a claim that they would jump bail. The Magistrate, Ngozi Ngele, overruled the prosecutor’s objection and granted the bail applications as prayed on self recognition for Okorie, one reliable surety to stand for others and N1 million for each of the other accused persons and their sureties.
Ngele ordered that the sureties must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction, deposit with the court recent photographs of themselves and those of the defendants, accompanied with their valid means of identification. She also directed that the Police and the court clerks should verify the addresses of the sureties and defendants. The matter was adjourned till April 18, 2023 for hearing.