The Hearing on our application challenging the court's jurisdiction to proceed with a baseless charge filed by the Ebonyi State Government, aimed at prolonging the detention of innocent Biafrans who have been in detention since 2021, came up yesterday, January 18, 2024. Unfortunately, the court did not sit.
My presence in court yesterday to legally secure the immediate release of these innocent UmuChineke, and further findings also revealed the prosecutor's covert efforts to ensure these innocent Biafrans' prolonged detention. However, I made it clear to the prosecutor that such unprofessional tactics have no place in our criminal jurisprudence.
It is important to note that these young individuals, who are in their productive years, were arrested at distinct locations in Ebonyi State by the Ebonyi State Police Command in 2021 and have been in custody since then.
It is disheartening to mention, that the State Government has in two successive charges filed against them before Ebonyi State High Court, frivolously accused them of committing offences of serious nature, and in these two successive criminal charges, these innocent Biafrans were all discharged by the Court, while Ruling on our applications on No case submission which were filed upon the conclusion of the prosecution’s case.
After being discharged from the last six count charges on December 22, 2023, the prosecutor obtained another detention warrant, in clear violation of court's directive to release them. Even the correctional service personnel were equally displeased with this act of manifest injustice and desecration of court order, as these innocent Biafrans were all bundled back to correctional centers.
During the ongoing trial for the last six charges, the prosecutor secretly filed a new charge and concealed it from us, seemingly to ensure the continued detention of these innocent youths in the event they were discharged for the second time by the Court. Unfortunately for the state government, the same new charge was an integral part of the six counts charge for which these young youths were all discharged on the 22nd day of December, 2023.
Although the case has been adjourned to February 7, 2024, our team has resolved among other things, to initiate administrative disciplinary action against the Prosecutor before the appropriate forum for his manifest acts of unprofessional conduct.
We will not relent until these innocent youths, who have been cleared of all criminal allegations by the High Court of Ebonyi State, are unconditionally and promptly released.
We shall continue to keep Ezigbo UmuChineke abreast of every development in this case as we progress.
Thank you all and remain blessed even as we MOVE!!!
Sir Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Esq. (KSC)
IPOB's Lead Counsel
19th January, 2024.