Imo People Jubilate Over Aku's Release

By Imo Bilie

Youths from Orlu senatorial zone in Imo State on Thursday thronged the streets of Owerri in jubilation over the release from prison custody of Aku Obidinma (Abdul), a former aide to the State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere.

The said Aku Obidinma had spent over 53 days at the Owerri Federal Prisons after he was remanded following allegations of incitement and public defamation over his facebook criticisms of his former boss, Madumere and the Imo State Government.

Despite the fact that he met his bail conditions, he was reportedly refused bail by a presiding magistrate in the state, thus fueling rumours that she may have been ‘bribed’ to keep the victim in prison custody for long.

The youths groups had planned to stage massive protest over the continuous detention in prison custody of the Deputy Governor’s aide when news filtered in on Tuesday that he had been released by a High Court judge who vary his bail conditions that was earlier refused by the magistrate.

The youths under the auspices of Orluzurumee Youth Assembly, OYA, had forthnight ago added their voice to the public calls for the unconditional release of Aku Obidinma.

The arrest and detention of Aku Obidinma have been generating heat in the state, a situation which have forced many human right groups to pick interest in the case.

When the case was charged to court, last November, 2016, before the presiding magistrate, Mrs. Toochi Agummadu, she initially claimed that she had no authority to grant the said Aku Obidinma bail.

She later handed down what was regarded in several quarters as very harsh bail conditions such as the signing of the bail bond by a traditional ruler who must come from Aku Obidinma's Mbieri community and that of a level 16 officer with evidence of ownership of landed property in Owerri or elsewhere.

Giving a graphic details of the matter, the youth group said; “Even when she, (Magistrate Toochi Agummadu) refused to vary the bail conditions as pleaded by Aku Obidinma's lawyers and other public spirited individuals and civil society organizations, Aku Obidinma was able to meet the harsh conditions promptly.

“However, the said Magistrate, Mrs. Agummadu said to be very close to the powers-that-be and described as a “hatchet lawyer” still refused him bail allegedly acting a script handed over to her.

“The traditional ruler from Mbieri Community who signed the bail bond for Aku Obidinma was threatened with withdrawal of his staff of office, thus forcing him to withdraw his signature eventually.

“Hon. Ijeoma Nwafor, daughter to Prof. Maurice Iwu who also appeared in court to sign the bail bond also said to be rejected by the magistrate on the ground that she does not reside in her Mbaitoli LGA, matrimonial home.

“As a result, Aku Obidinma was left to languish in prison custody so much that he spent Christmas and New Year days behind bars in a case that is purely bailable.

Continuing, the aggrieved youths sensing danger, “that our leaders have gone berserk and dictatorial, had threatened that further delay in releasing Abdul will incur certainly their wraths since the case is a bailable offence and do not discourage the government from persecuting the matter.

The statement signed by Darlington Uzoahia, Ebere Okeke as President and Secretary-General of Orluzurumee Youth respectively, and made available to BigPen Online, the youths had argued that the continued detention of Abdul had sign-posts serious danger and threat to the country’s nascent democracy.

“While we are not against or in any way opposed to any political office holder seeking redress in court over any disparaging statements or blackmail or defamation of character as the case maybe, it should be done within the ambit of the law since justice delayed is justice denied.

“We therefore called on the powers-that-be or whosoever is responsible for the incarceration of Aku Obidinma to quickly release him, without further delay and allow him to be while the case continues in court since the said offence and charges are bailable.

“This we suggested is the best option for the parties so as not to heat up the polity any further.

Explaining further, OYA said “according to a source, Aku Obidinma had on the 5th of October 2016 posted something on his Facebook (FB) wall where he condoled with the family of one Theophilus Ogedinma over his sudden death and made some comment that didn't go down well with the Deputy Governor.

“No sooner he posted the statements on the walls of his Facebook, security operatives from the Directorate of State Security DSS, Owerri arrested him, at Okigwe road Owerri and kept him out of circulation.

The group, advised the authorities involved to allow justice to take its full cost instead of attempting to destroy the system by same people who ought to protect it.