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Rivers govt. drops murder charge against another APC chieftain

Blessing Okorite, Port Harcourt

In solidarity with the handshake extended to all political bodies in Rivers State, the state government has again dropped a murder charge against a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Flag-Amachree Ojukaye.

Justice Chinwedu Wogu struck out the murder case against Ojukaye, on Wednesday, after counsel to the state government told the court that the state government had decided to withdraw the matter.

Ojukaye was arraigned in court for alleged murder of one Smart Soberekon.

It would be recalled that, on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Justice Joy Akpagnum, had struck out a similar murder case in her court after she pronounced the decision of the prosecution to withdraw the charges, following the presentation of a Nolle Prosiqui filed by the State Attorney General, Zacheaus Adango through the prosecuting counsel, Godwin Obla.

The Prosecution Counsel, Obla, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had presented the motion to the court and the submission was not objected.

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Speaking, Obla told the court that the reason for the motion was that the state government had forgiven Ojukaye.

“Today we drew the attention of the court that the Attorney General of the state has failed nolle prosequi and prayed the court to strike out the case and the court did. This means that the state has discontinued the case.

However, at Justice Wogu’s State High Court 21, on Wednesday, Prosecution Counsel, Damilola George Adeyemi, also told the court that the state government had forgiven the APC chieftain, hence the withdrawal of the matter.

He cited Section 211 (1C) of the 1999 constitution and Section 107 of the Rivers State Administration Criminal Procedure Law which he said gives the Attorney General of the State power to drop or withdraw from any criminal matter it prosecuting.

Counsel for Ojukaye, Mr. Emenike Ebete, who did not oppose the withdrawal of the case by the Prosecution said, “My only prayer is that this affliction should not rise again”.

Speaking with The Nigerian Xpress outside the courtroom, the prosecution counsel, Adeyemi explained that ”The matter was earlier slated for today (Wednesday) for continuation of proceedings and cross examination for the state witness in the matter, however, in pursuant of the powers conferred on the Hon Attorney General of River State in pursuant to  Section 211 (1c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 107 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Procedure Law, on May 6, 2019 entered a Nolle.

“So, we brought that to the attention of the court and on the basis of that the matter was struck out”, he explained.

Mr. Emenike Ebete, defendant counsel who also spoke with our correspondent at the court premises noted, “The matter has been struck out, that was because the Attorney General of Rivers State entered Nolle Prosequi in the matter.

“And what it means is that they do not have the intention to continue to prosecute Ojukaye in the murder charge against him and that has signalled the end of the matter.

“We so thanked the Attorney General of the state who has done it. I know he did it as a lawyer and also on instruction from his boss, the Governor of Rivers State. We thank everybody and wish that this will lead to peace in the peace.”

On his part, lawyer to the victims, Barr. Tubotamuno Dick, said what happened in the court was between the ambit of the law.

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He commended Governor Wike for his action and urged that the victims’ families should be compensated to ease the pains.

“I am the lawyer to the victims, Smart Soberekon  and Iminabo Dokubo.

“What happened today is within the ambit of the law. The Attorney General so empowered to withdraw charges at the pleasure of the governor.

“The governor is doing this for the interest of peace and as an Olive Branch which I believe will be appreciated because this is the state we have and there must be an end to litigation at sometime in time.

“Is a good thing that the first gesture is coming from the governor, he is like a father to everybody in the state.

“I think the state governor now has the onus to appease the families of the deceases and all the other parties involve so that the withdrawal and discharge would be consummated,” Barr Dick advised.