(Press Release)Eight persons who allegedly assaulted operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and prevented them from carrying out their lawful duties have been remanded in prison custody. Justice Lambo Akande of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on Friday November 16, 2012, ordered the accused persons remanded in prison custody till November 19, 2012 when their bail application will be determined.
The accused persons: Frank Chibuzo Ozuorah, Jonah Essien, Charles Ebri, Ifeoma Eleazo, Nkem Ekeke, Prince Ebubechi James, Innocent Nwogwugwu and Okechukwu Ijeoma were arraigned on a five count charge of felony, willful obstruction of duty, resistance, unlawful detention and assault.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Frank Chibuzo Ozuorah, Jonah Essien, Charles Ebri, Ifeoma Eleazo, Nkem Ekeke, Prince Ebubechi James, Innocent Nwogwugwu, Okechukwu Ijeoma and others at large, on 14th November, 2012 at your company’s premises (Chibiak Steel Link Limited) KM 17, Port Harcourt – Aba Express Way, Obio-Akpor L.G.A. Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, willfully obstructed Dare Folarin, Babale Gwalo, Charles Iferenta, Placidus Adi and Musa Owoma, all officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the course of the exercise of their official duty and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 38(2)(a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under section 38(2)(b) of the same Act.
The eight accused persons pleaded not guilty to the five count charge preferred against them.
Prosecution counsel, Ifeanyi Agwu then prayed the court for a date for commencement of trial. But Chris Okafor, who appeared for six of the accused persons, presented an oral application for bail for his clients. He argued that the offences which the accused persons are alleged to have committed are bail able.
Enweluzo C. I. and O. G. Onwuchuruba, counsel to 4th and 5th accused respectively, adopted the submission of Okafor.
It will be recalled that four Operatives from the Port Harcourt zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, were on November 14, 2012, attacked within the premises of Chibiak Steel Link Limited by the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Frank Chibuzo Izuorah and seven of his staff.
The Operatives, Dare Folarin, Babale Gwalo, Charles Iferenta and Adie Placidus along with three mobile policemen had gone to the company to deliver an invitation letter to Izuorah who is wanted in respect of a case of obtaining under false pretence. The Commission had received a petition dated October 5th, 2012, wherein the petitioner alleged that a certain Demiar Izuogu who posed as a car dealer with JAMIL MOTORS, defrauded him and two others to the tune of N3.54million under the guise of helping him acquire an Audi A6 car, a Toyota Highlander SUV and a Toyota Camry car.
On arrival at the company, the operatives identified themselves and stated their mission but were refused entry by a security man who claimed that the managing director was unavailable. But the team’s insistence on going in to verify the claim, forced the managing director to come out and he, along with his staff, descended on the operatives, inflicted bodily injuries on them and dispossessed them of valuables. They proceeded to hold the operatives hostage, with the help of thugs who arrived the scene in two Hiace buses at the behest of Izuorah.
It took the intervention of a reinforcement of mobile policemen from the State Police Command to free the EFCC operatives from the clutches of Izuorah.