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Supreme Court judgement: Magistrate grants 38 protesters bail, directs them to produce directors each as surety

By Umar Egbunu Ogwu, Lafia

The 38 members of the Advocates for Justice in the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), have been arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Court III sitting Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.

Our correspondent reports that the angry protesters were arrested last Friday in Lafia for allegedly protesting the Supreme Court judgement which affirmed Governor Abdullahi Sule as winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election.

They were arraigned for alleged public disturbance and unlawful assembly in Lafia metropolis.

It would be recalled that members of the PDP’s Advocates for Justice had staged series of protests in Lafia, the Nasarawa State Capital shortly after the declaration of Governor Abdullahi Sule by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the winner of the governorship election in the state.

Following the unanimous judgement by the Supreme Court reaffirming the victory of Governor Sule, members of the movement staged a protest in Lafia that resulted in burning tyres and blocking of Federal road.

This prompted the Police to arrest the perpetrators having failed to honour the peace accord signed between APC and PDP at the Office of the State Commissioner of Police prior to the Supreme Court Judgement.

Arraigning the 38 members of the Movement for Justice, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Labaran Shu’aibu Magaji informed the Court that in line with Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution, he applied to take over the case as the Chief Officer of the State from the Police an application that was not objected by all the defendants’ Counsel.

The State Attorney General narrated that the defendants are charged for unlawful assembly, Criminal Conspiracy, public disturbance and mischief by fire, noting that all charges are bailable offences which informed his decision not to object the motion for bail application filed by the defendants’ Counsel.

His words, “In line with Criminal Justice Act and the mantra of His Excellency Engineer Abdullahi A Sule, Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, all the charges are bailable but we drew the attention of the Court to set conditions that will compel the defendants to appear in Court during hearing.”

One of the defendants’ Counsel Barrister Ayiwulu Baba Ayiwulu who spoke in an interview with journalists immediately after the court sitting, appreciated the submission of the State Attorney General for supporting their bail application but expressed concern over the conditions set for the defendants.

According to him, “Like in my own village, we don’t have a single director….That’s explains why we said the conditions are too stringent.”

Ruling on the application, the Magistrate Muhammad Abdullahi Lanze granted the defendants bail on conditions that they must produce directors each as surety either in State or Federal Government level who reside within the jurisdiction of the Court, sworn bail bond of two million Naira, written affidavit that they must appear during hearing.

Our correspondent reports that the matter has been adjourned till February 27, 2024 for hearing.

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