A Chief Magistrate court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has remanded in prison custody, 45 persons who were arrested by the police during a peaceful rally of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in solidarity with the inauguration of new United States President Donald Trump.
The accused, who were arraigned by the state Commissioner of Police, are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and treason in two courtrooms.
While 38 of them were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Sokari D. Andrew-Jaja of Court 5, seven are being tried by Chief Magistrate A. O. Amadi-Nna of Court 7.
The arraignment of the accused at 4pm and trial lasted for over two hours, and attracted hundreds of Biafra agitators.
In Magistrate Court 5, the lead counsel to the accused, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, orally filed an application for bail for his clients but it was refused following the alleged offence of treason committed by the accused persons.
In his ruling, the presiding magistrate, Sokari D. Andrew-Jaja said that the accused in count one, if found guilty would be sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.
Also in count two, the magistrate explained that if found guilty, the accused would be sentenced to life imprisonment. He therefore said that his court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
While remanding the accused in prison custody, Andrew-Jaja, ordered that adequate treatment should be given to any of them that was injured during the protest.
He adjourned the matter till January 30, 2016 for adoption of written addresses.
Also, Chief Magistrate Amadi-Nna remanded seven persons arraigned before him by the Police over an alleged conspiracy and treasonable offence.
The accused, who were remanded in prison, were said to have “conducted themselves in a manner likely to force the President to change his measures by displaying flags and other items of the Biafra Republic with such intention by an act to take over the government of Nigeria by force and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41 (c) of the Criminal Code Cap 37 Vol. II Laws of Rivers state of Nigeria, 1999.”
The matter was also adjourned till January 30 for mention.