41 ACN Supporters Arraigned For Treason In Akwa Ibom

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

UYO, April 01, (THEWILL) - The Akwa Ibom state police command Friday arraigned 41 persons suspected to be members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on a three-count-charge of treasonable felony following a clash between the supporters of the party and the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) a few days ago in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene, which killed more than 30 persons and destroyed assets worth several millions of naira.

Count One of the charge reads; that you and others now at large on the 22nd day of March 2011 at Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat premises Akwa Ibom State, Uyo, Uyo local Government Area in the Uyo federal High Court did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: treason and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 37 (2) of the criminal code act cap 38, vol.4 laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.

But before the second charge could be read, the defense counsel, Mr. Francis Ekanem who led 21 other lawyers to defend all the accused persons objected that the charge as laid by the prosecution is contrary to the provision of section 340 subsection 1,3,4 of the criminal procedure law.

He averred that the sections required that a charge of this nature brought before a Federal High Court or other higher court should be by way of information supported by statements taken from witnesses for the prosecution verified on oath or on the alternative, saying such information should be prepare by the direction or the consent of the judge.

The defense counsel further submitted that since the prosecution has failed to comply with section 340 (4) and section 73 of the institution of criminal proceedings in the High Court and by virtue of section 340 (5) the law allows the court to squash any information that goes contrary to foregoing provisions. He therefore urged the court to strike out the case since it is not a court of summary jurisdiction.

However the prosecuting counsel, Mr. E.O. Ajah urged the court to discountenance the submission of the defense claiming that section 340 of the criminal procedure law does not relate to the trial at the Federal High Court.

In his averment, he maintained that the procedure at the Federal High Court is a special procedure, adding that the procedure that relates to filing statements of witnesses which according to him is strictly for the High Court of a state.

He argued that there is no law that says that charge before the Federal high Court should be accompanied by statements of witnesses, submitting that the charge is proper and should be upheld as such.

The trial judge, Justice E S Chukwu, ruled that the suspect should be remanded in prison custody and adjourned the case till April 8, 2011 for hearing on the preliminary objection.