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Court rejects Fubara’s loyalists’ challenge of jurisdiction

Court, businessman

By Andrew Orolua

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed attempts by five loyalists of Rivers Governor, Siminalayi Fubara to orally challenge its jurisdiction in their trial for alleged terrorism.

Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod, charged with terrorism offences, sought to contest the court’s territorial jurisdiction verbally.

However, the court insisted on formal written applications in adherence to legal procedures. Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon rebuffed the oral application presented by counsel to the first and second defendants, Lukman Fagbemi SAN, emphasising the necessity of following proper legal protocol.

During Thursday’s proceedings, the Inspector General of Police, represented by lawyer Simon Lough SAN, aimed to commence the trial by presenting a witness.

However, Fagbemi intervened with an oral application, which was promptly dismissed by Justice Olajuwon. The judge stressed the importance of diligence in legal proceedings, advising the lawyer to submit any motions or applications formally.

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Despite the defendants’ request for an adjournment pending the determination of their jurisdictional challenge, Justice Olajuwon cited the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, which prohibits such requests.

Nonetheless, counsel for the fourth and fifth defendants, Adeolu Salako, successfully persuaded the court for an adjournment to allow time for him to study the charges against his clients.

Consequently, the trial was postponed until March 12 to accommodate the new lawyer’s preparation and for the prosecution to present its case.

The defendants, denied bail due to the severity of the charges and procedural errors in their bail applications, were ordered to remain in Kuje Prison, Abuja. The charges against them stem from alleged acts of terrorism, including the invasion, vandalism, and arson of the Rivers State House of Assembly, as well as the alleged murder of a police superintendent and five police informants during political unrest in Port Harcourt last October.

The defendants are accused of orchestrating these acts through various cult groups, including the Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland, and Greenland, with charges filed under the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022.

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