By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
11 members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), have been arraigned before a Magistrate Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State Capital.
The NULGE members were arraigned on a 6-count charge by the Anambra State Police in a matter between them and the Commissioner of Police in the state.
They are being arraigned for allegedly conspiring to commit felony, forgery of union letterhead, malicious damage of NULGE property, and for placing the Union President, Comrade Chikwelu Adigwe, under fear of physical injury and anxiety of being trailed by gunmen.
Among the accused persons were Chuddy Orakwue; Alagwu Odife;Ezeibe Kenechi Mark; Nzekwe Chidi; Ifeanyi Nworah; Nwalutu Patrick; UgochukwuIgbokwe; Okam K. Ifeanyi; Victor Mary Anuna and NwankwoOnyebuchi. The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The prosecution counsel, CSP Nwezi Chuka, said the life of the NULGE President, Adigwe Chikwelu, was under threat and that even when the matter was under investigation, the defendants kept committing the same offence of forgery, attack and issuing death threats to the NULGE President, Comrade Chikwelu Adigwe.
He prayed the court to give the matter an accelerated hearing, even as he also urged the court to give an order for the remand of the defendants in a correctional centre in the interest of peace and tranquility.
Responding, the Defence Counsel, Sir Basil O. Aguigwo, argued the charges were all bailable offences and that the Magistrate Court had the jurisdiction to grant such bail.
Aguigwo informed the court that all the defendants were civil servants on grade levels 14 and 15 respectively and had neither disobeyed previous invitations of the police, to warrant them to disobey court summons.
Presiding over the matter, Magistrate Anyaegbunam Nonyelum said the charges were proper bailable offences and granted an accelerated hearing on the matter.
She also granted the defendants bail with varying conditions, including providing a surety, depositing N50, 000, two passport photographs and affidavits, among others; even as Odife Alagwu, Ezeibe Kenechi Mark and Chidi Nzekwe were remanded in correctional centre for inability to perfect their bail conditions which the Secretary of the Union had to take them on bail.
When contacted, the State Secretary, Comrade A.C. Okoro, said he was yet to be contacted on the issue over standing in for their bail, claiming that the accused would impersonate his position, saying that had been their regular practice. He promised to do that when contacted but said he would not take it lying low if they impersonated his office and person.
The Magistrate urged the parties to be of good behaviour pending the outcome of the matter. The hearing of the matter will commence on September 12 to October 18, 2023.