by Rachel Ogbu
Chief Magistrate Emma Woke acquitted seven people arrested in connection with the tragic ALUU4 case where four students of the University of Port Harcourt were killed in a mob attack.
Sitting in Port Harcourt yesterday, February 28, the freed seven out of 18 people initially arrested gained freedom based on the legal advice by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP. Woke had read the legal advice dated January 25, 2013, before the court which indicated that no prima facie case of murder was established against them.
They include Ekpe Daniel, Cynthia Chinwo, George Nwadei, Gabriel Ochie and Endurance Edet, Lucky Agwurum and Finebone Jeffrey.
According to reports, the DPP said the even suspects were arrested based on hunch by the police.
However, Woke held that Alhaji Hassan Welewa, a community leader, and 10 other suspects would face fresh charges by the Department of Public Prosecution.
“Your original case file will be retained to enable us file information with proof of evidence for the avoidance of doubt, against Lawal Segun, Lucky Orji (former police sergeant), Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe, Abang Cyril, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel in the Port Harcourt High Court,” the magistrate said.
The Punch reports:
The advice Reading the recommendation of the DPP, Woke said, “It is a trite law that suspicion, no matter how strong, cannot take the place of legal proof without concrete evidence to substantiate it; and as such, they were victims of circumstance. Therefore, charging and prosecuting them will be an exercise in futility.
“Similarly, no prima facie case of murder contrary to Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 37 Volume 2, Laws of Rivers State, 1999, was disclosed against seven other persons, who were not charged to court, but were granted police bail after their arrest in connection with the matter.
“The charge against them should equally be dropped and they be released forthwith from custody.”
He stated that though the legal advice did not have any case of murder against Alhaji Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh Endurance, Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Evans Samuel, their offence was “neglect to prevent a felony”, contrary to Section 515 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 37, Volume 2, Laws of Rivers State, 1999.