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A Magistrate’s Court in Enugu East has upheld a no-case submission made by the defence counsel in the case between Enugu State Commissioner of Police vs. Henry Oputa and 19 others.
In his ruling, Chief Magistrate A. C. Mbah also discharged the defendants on the ground that the prosecution failed woefully in proving the ingredients of the two-count charge.
The court held that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses was discredited as a result of cross-examination, and rendered manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal can convict on it.
The police had on April 6, 2023, arraigned the defendants before the court on a two-count charge of conspiracy to belong to ‘an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 495(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 30, vol. II Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.’
They were also accused of registering RC 7458 with the name De Norsemen Kclub Inc. under the disguise of unlawful society on September 6 and 7, 2019, gathering themselves under the guise and held the meeting of Vikings Confraternity, an unlawful society and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 8 of Public Order (Prohibition of Secret Cults and their activities) Law No. 17 Revised of Enugu State of Nigeria 2009.’
The defendants were arrested in Enugu on September 7, 2019, during the convention of De Norsemen Kclub by the police.
In their extra-judicial statements to the police, some of them admitted their membership of the club and insisted that it was not a secret cult, while about six others denied membership, asserting that they were in the hotel facility for other reasons.
Consequently, they were arraigned and they all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The prosecuting counsel, Simeon Eze, called two witnesses-Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Godspower Owuzo, and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Ekeleme Chidobe, and tendered six exhibits, including the document from Corporate Affairs Commission.
But, E.E. Anosike leading S.P.C. Nwokolo, Okoronkwo Uneke, and S.A. Nwankwo as the defendants’ counsel, averred that from the totality of evidence led by the prosecution to prove the case, ‘we respectfully submit that the prosecution has not made out prima facie case to warrant the defendants to enter their defence.’
Ruling on the matter, Chief Magistrate Mbah declared that prosecution could not prove its case and therefore, dismissed the matter.