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CROSS RIVER LG POLLS: COUNCIL BOSS, SUPERVISOR, OTHERS ARRAIGNED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER

By NBF News

Few weeks after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries, preparatory for the August 28 local government polls in Cross River State, the police have arraigned the Yakurr Council Chairman and PDP chairmanship candidate, Mr. Ubi Itam Ettah and others before a Chief Magistrate's Court, Ugep, for conspiracy and attempted murder of Felix Okoi Uket, Marshall Otu Ofem and Eclipse Otu Ofem on July 3.

Eta with Martins Ubama, the supervisor for finance, Okoi John Arikpo and others who are said to be at large are accused of inflicting matchet cuts on Felix Okoi Uket, Marshall Otu Ofem and Eclipse Otu Ofem who came to the court with Plaster of Paris (POP).

The three accused persons pleaded not guilty and were granted bail and the matter adjourned to September 22.

Leading the prosecution team on behalf of commissioner of police was Mr. S. O. Umoren of the Legal Department of the Nigeria Police, while the defence was led by Mr. Kierian U. Ejukwa, with Mr. F. O. Obeten and Mr. S. Ikoi also making appearance for 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused respectively.

The defense had initially argued that the Magistrate Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

This, however, was not without a counter submission from the prosecuting counsel, who argued in favour of the court's jurisdiction, after which the trial Magistrate, Fanian Ekoi, ruled that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

During examination of one of the victims of the alleged murder attempts, Eclipse Otu Ofem, male, alleged that after he was brutally matcheted by people suspected to be loyal to the council chairman, he was taken in the pool of his own blood to the chairman's residence who expressed annoyance on why he was not killed at once.

Otu, who came to court with matchet cuts on his waste, back and head said the chairman later called in the police and gave N2000 for first aid treatment in hospital.

Daily Sun investigations revealed that during the just-concluded PDP primaries held at Ugep on July 3, there were violent clashes between two opposing factions over who should produce councillors in Ijiman and Ikpakapit wards leading to the cancellation of the primaries there.

However, a human rights activist and legal practitioner, Okoi Obono Obla, who was in Court to observe proceedings, frowned at the refusal of the magistrate to decline jurisdiction when it was obvious that the court did not have power to try the offence.

Obla, who was in court to observe proceedings, said the Magistrate, Mr Fanian Ekoi, ought to have ordered the accused persons to be remanded in prisons pending the advice of the Director for Public Prosecutions.

He vowed to petition the chief judge of Cross River State to transfer the case out of the Chief Magistrates Court.