Burnt Rivers Assembly: Court to hear Fubara’s chief of staff’s motion against arrest warrant Monday

RIVERS- The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has fixed Monday, February 19, for the hearing of motions on notice filed by Edison Ehie, the chief of staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers, seeking an order vacating its earlier arrest warrant order against him and others.

Justice Emeka Nwite fixed the date after counsels for Mr Ehie and five others, Femi Falana, SAN, and Oluwole Aladedoye, SAN, filed separate applications to the effect.

While Mr Falana filed a motion seeking an order to set aside the January 31 order made by Justice Nwite, Mr Aladedoye applied for a stay of execution of the arrest order.

The judge had, on January 31, issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr Ehie over his alleged involvement in the burning of part of Rivers House of Assembly on October 29, 2023.

Justice Nwite, who gave the order while delivering a ruling in an ex-parte application brought by counsel for Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Lough, SAN, also ordered the arrest of five other accomplices.

Those ordered to be arrested along with Mr Ehie are Jinjiri Bala, Happy Benneth, Progress Joseph, Adokiye Oyagiri, and Chibuike Peter, also known as Rambo.

The court granted the ex-parte application as canvassed by Mr Lough on the grounds that the six defendants had been at large to stand their trial in a seven-count preferred against five other suspected arsonists currently being prosecuted before a sister court.

The IGP had, in a charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/25/2024, arraigned Chime Eguma Ezebalike, 37; Prince Lukman Oladele, 47; Kenneth Goodluck Kpasa, 40; Osiga Donald, 42; and Ochueja Thankgod, 35, before a sister court presided over by Justice Bolaji Olajuwon on January 25 in Abuja.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts and were remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre.

The IGP, who arraigned them on a seven-count criminal charge bordering on terrorism and murder, declared Mr Ehie and five others, said to be at large, wanted.

Mr Ehie, recently appointed as CoS after he resigned as member and factional speaker of the assembly, was alleged to be among the suspects charged by the IGP.

His resignation was said to be part of the agreements reached to reconcile Mr Fubara and former Governor Nyesom Wike, now the FCT Minister.

But in a motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/112/2024 dated February 2 and filed February 7 by Mr Falana, Mr Ehie and others sought two orders, including “an order setting aside the order made on January 31, 2024, for want of jurisdiction.

“An order of this honourable court staying the execution of the order made on January 31, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of this application.”

Giving six grounds of argument, Mr Falana argued that the IGP (complainant/respondent) had not filed any criminal charge or motion before the court.

The senior lawyer argued that the court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the ex-parte application as the alleged offences of conspiracy, attempted murder, murder, and arson took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers.

“The complainant/respondent (IGP) did not adduce evidence of terrorism in the affidavit supporting the application.

“The complainant/respondent did not cite any section of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013 (as amended) alleged to have been contravened by the applicants,” he argued.

Also, Mr Aladedoye, in a motion on notice dated and filed February 9, sought two orders, including “an order staying execution or further execution of the order(s) of this honourable court made on January 31, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the applicants.

“An order of injunction restraining the complainant from carrying out or further carrying out the orders of this honourable court made on January 31, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the applicant in this case.”

Giving a three-ground argument, Mr Aladedoye said that a notice of appeal had already been filed against Justice Nwite’s orders.

According to the senior lawyer, the notice of appeal contains grounds which challenge the jurisdiction of the ourt.

(NAN)

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