The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday, arraigned five individuals from Port Harcourt on charges of terrorism brought forth by the Federal Government.
The presiding judge, Justice Bolaji Olajuwon, ruled that the accused—Chime Eguma Ezebalike, Prince Lukman Oladele, Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, Osiga Donald, and Ochueja Thankgod—be remanded in Kuje Prison, Abuja, until February 2, when their bail applications will be considered.
The charges against the defendants include acts of terrorism related to the invasion, vandalism, and arson of the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex during the political turmoil that engulfed the state in October of the previous year. The unrest stemmed from the clash between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.
Apart from the alleged destruction of the State House of Assembly, the accused were implicated in the killing of Superintendent of Police Bako Agbashim and five police informants in Ahoada community. The named police informants, Charles Osu, Ogbonna Eja, Idaowuka Felix, Paul Victor Chibuogu, and Saturday Edi, were reportedly victims of the violence.
The Federal Government also accused the defendants of orchestrating chaos through various cult groups—Supreme Viking Confraternity, Degbam, Iceland, and Greenland—in a bid to disrupt the peace and commercial activities of the state.
Upon hearing the charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, all the defendants pleaded not guilty. Despite the absence of the immediate past factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, from the terrorism charge, his representation in court by Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Oluwole Aladedoyin, was noted, contending that his name prominently featured in the alleged offenses. However, Justice Olajuwon dismissed further arguments, maintaining that Ehie was not yet a defendant in the trial.
Following the arraignment, Audu Garba, the leader of the prosecuting team, sought a date for the full-blown trial of the defendants. However, Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Lukman Fagbemi, representing the 1st and 2nd defendants, Chime Eguma Ezebalike and Prince Lukman Oladele, requested to move bail applications, citing their extended detention since the previous year.
Garba vehemently opposed the motion, citing the recent receipt of the bail applications and the need for time to study and respond. Justice Olajuwon sided with the prosecution, deeming the bail applications not ready for hearing. The judge subsequently scheduled February 2 for the hearing of all bail applications and, pending the determination, ordered the remand of the five defendants in Kuje Prison until the adjourned date.