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Court affirms IGP’s terrorism charges against 5 Fubara loyalists

The five loyalists of Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State charged with terrorism offences on Friday in Abuja suffered a setback in the quest to stop the Inspector General of Police IGP from proceeding with their prosecution on terrorism offences.

Their application seeking to stop the IGP on the ground that they can only be put on trial on terrorism charges by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice was dismissed by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday.

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, in a ruling on their preliminary objections raised against the IGP held that the defendants were wrong in their claims that only the AGF can put them on trial.

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Justice Olajuwon said the law, especially sections 3, 63 and 74 of Terrorism Prevention Act were clear to the effect that while the AGF has constitutional powers to strengthen the terrorism prevention law, the same sections did not confer the exclusive rights to prosecute on the AGF.

The Judge said that while section 5 of the Terrorism Prevention Act confers responsibility of gathering intelligence and investigation on Police, the same section gave rights to Police to initiate criminal charges in a competent court of jurisdiction.

Specifically, Justice Olajuwon held that while the AGF, under section 174 of the 1999 constitution can lawfully take over, continue or terminate any initiated criminal charges, such right does not make trial an exclusive right of the AGF.

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“From the cursory look at all the authorities cited by lawyers for and against the IGP rights to initiate the instant criminal proceedings, one thing is clear and clearly too, that police can rightly initiate criminal charges including terrorism charges”.

The Judge said the preliminary objections to the trial by the defendants were incompetent, lacking in merit and subsequently dismissed them.

The five defendants charged with terrorism include Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald and Ochueja Thankgod.

Meanwhile, Justice Olajuwon has fixed Monday, February 5 for ruling in their respective bail applications.

The Judge fixed the date after taking arguments from lawyers from the police, led by Simon Lough, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Lukman Fagbemi, SAN who stood for the 1st and 2nd defendants in the matter among others.

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Justice Olajuwon ordered that the five defendants be returned to Kuje Prison in Abuja pending the decision of the Court to allow them on bail or not.