Seven members of two rival cult groups were remanded in Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe, by a Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court over alleged murder of three persons in a reprisal cult war.
Chief Magistrate Levi Animoku handed the order in his ruling on Monday in Lokoja, following arraignment of the accused persons for the murder of Omale Usman, Musa Muhammed (aka Tipper), and Segun Folorunsho (aka Abi) for the said offence.
The accused were charged with criminal conspiracy, membership of unlawful society and attempted culpable homicide contrary to sections 97(1), 97(b), 229 and 221 of the penal code law.
While reading the police First Information Report, FIR, the prosecuting police officer, Mr Tuesday Ganagana said the accused, who were members of the ‘Arrow Baga’ and ‘Aye’ confraternities, committed the offence at about 11:30pm on March 22.
Shedding more light, he said the group criminally conspired and armed themselves with deadly weapons, including knives, axes and cutlasses, and violently stabbed to death one Omale Usman, a member of the Arrow Baga, over cult rivalry.
The suspects were also alleged to have inflicted machete cuts on one Lekan, alias Okoli, and Maikudi Isah, who were immediately rushed to Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, and admitted for treatment due to the inflicted injuries.
The FIR further revealed that members of the offended cult group led by one Nasara Abubakar loaded themselves in a Mercedes Benz car marked AV 994 MKD and other vehicles, and launched a reprisal attack on members of the other group.
According to the FIR, the attack led to a free-for-all fight between the two rival cult groups which resulted in the death of one Musa Muhammed and Segun Folorunsho.
The FIR further revealed that the Aye cult group leader, Nasara Abubakar, and his members took the corpses of the slain rival group members away in the Mercedes Benz car and dumped them in the River Niger.
Ganagana told the court that investigation into the matter was on-going and asked for adjournment, but objected to granting of bail, saying that the offence of culpable homicide under Section 341 of CPC was not bailable.
B.T. Alagani Esq. and Mu’azu Abass leading three other lawyers for the accused applied for their bail by invoking Section 36(5) of the constitution, which infers presumption of innocence of an accused until proven otherwise.
Explaining further, the defence lawyer averred that no matter how the FIR was couched, it could not take the place of evidence and therefore urged the court to use its discretion to grant the accused persons bail.
Animoku in his ruling said: “The offence of culpable homicide is the highest crime known to our laws; it carries death penalty. In as much as the court has discretion to admit persons alleged of crimes to bail, it must be done with caution.
“However, one thing stands out in the FIR that three persons lost their lives while some people are still receiving treatment. The presumption of innocence is not absolute. So, I decline to delve into granting bail to the accused persons.
“The accused persons shall be remanded at Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe”, he ruled as he adjourned the case to May 3rd for for further hearing.

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