An Nteje Magistrate court in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, presided over by Chukwuma Ibemesim, has remanded five persons in Onitsha Prison custody for allegedly kidnapping one Bartholomew Obinma, younger brother to Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obinma (Fr. Ebube Muonso), a popular religious leader in the state, and three others all from Uruebo Village, Nkwelle Ezunaka also in Oyi Local Government Area of the state.
Their remand in the custody followed arraignment before the court by the police on a 14-count charge of conspiracy, kidnapping and ransom taking.
Ibemesim had after overruling the defence lawyers, who reminded the court of a subsisting order of an interim injunction made on March 18, by an Otuocha High Court presided over by Justice DOC Amaechina which had restrained the Inspector-General of Police, IGP from arresting the accused persons in connection with the matter, ordered that the original police file containing the matter and the inventory of the exhibits be transmitted to the Attorney-General’s Office, while the Assistant Registrar of the Court, ACR forward the proceedings of the court to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP in Awka.
Counsel to the defendants, Sylvester Ezeokenwa who appeared with Humphrey Udechukwu and Onugbogu had drawn the attention of the court to a subsisting interim injunction made by Amaechina, asking the court not to allow the prosecution to arraign the defendants based on the earlier High Court which the police flouted and went ahead to arrest and arraign them on trump-up charges of kidnapping.
But the prosecution vehemently opposed the submissions of the defence counsel to the effect that a High court had earlier restrained IGP from arresting the accused persons, arguing that the interim order cannot stop the police from carrying out their duties of investigating criminal matters.
In his ruling shortly after the charges were read and both counsels made their submissions, Magistrate Ibemesim who adjourned the matter to May 31, this year, ordered that the prosecution witnesses be bound over to the High court in the sum of N40,000 each.
The Police prosecution had alleged that the five accused persons conspired among themselves, armed with guns and other offensive weapons and allegedly kidnapped their victims and collected some amount of money from their families as ransom.
The prosecution further alleged that the accused persons also collected N160,000 ransom from Obinma to release him,N3,700 from Godwin Okoye, N66,000 from Izunna Edogwugu and N56,000 from Francis Onwuzurike who were their victims.
However, at the centre of the case was a land dispute between the two parties who are from the same Uruebo Village in Nkwelle-Ezunaka Community.
Speaking to newsmen on the matter, Udechukwu, one of the defendants lawyers, said they had earlier sent a petition to the IGP, alleging that a popular religious leader from the community, whose brother was president of the executives of the village meeting has interest in the expanse land of the community.
They also alleged in the petition that the religious leader had boasted that they would use the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS or any other Police formation to hound and detain them.

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