It was double jeopardy for a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Chief Richard Perekeme Kpodoh, as the State High Court 7, sitting in Yenagoa, presided over by Justice Eradiri, yesterday, failed to grant an application for bail filed by counsel to the defendant, who is standing trial for rape.
While the presiding Judge was denying him bail, despite appearing in court on stretcher, his party, through the Publicity Secretary, Doifie Buokoribo, said he was never a member of the party.
Kpodoh was first arraigned at the Magistrate Court 10, presided over by E.T. Empire-Ugwa, on two counts of unlawful detention and rape of one Teke Blessing.
According to the charge sheet, Kpodoh was alleged to have detained Blessing on June 20th, this year at Etegwe area of Yenagoa, with intent to defile her, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 155 of the Criminal Code.
On count two, Kpodoh, a former security adviser in the state, was said to have, on the same day he allegedly detained the girl, raped her, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 285 of the Criminal Code.
The accused person, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case was later withdrawn from the Magistrate Court and taken to the state High Court 7.
On the day he took his plea, Kpodoh collapsed at the High Court as a result of what he claimed to be a liver-related sickness.
But yesterday, when the court was set to rule on his bail application, Kpodoh was bought on a stretcher by the authorities of the Nigerian Prisons, Okaka, Yenagoa.
There was, however, mild drama when the Judged came into the courtroom and ordered that the accused person should be stretched out of his court.
“Why did you bring him on a stretcher? Take him away from here. This is not necessary,” Justice Eradiri said.
Ruling on the bail application after examining all the exhibits attached by the applicant, including his medical report, Justice Eradiri said the report lacked required ingredients to grant the application, noting that the medical report was simply a health examination carried out by the hospital, which failed to state the implications of allowing the applicant to remain in detention.
After examining some judicial precedents and considering the gravity of the offence, which attracts life imprisonment upon conviction, the Judge held that he could not rely only on his discretion to grant the bail.
He stated: “The cardiologist, whose name is obliterated in the medical report, did not state that he or the institution he represents, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa, will not be able to provide specialised services to the applicant.
“The accused is charged for rape, which is felony and upon conviction attracts life imprisonment. The court should exercise caution in granting bails to persons on serious offences, because of the likelihood of escaping from justice.
“Therefore, he should continue to remain in prisons custody, but granted access to any medical attention.
“The bail application is dismissed.”
Justice Eradiri later adjoined the case until September 21, this year, for hearing.
But the APC, in a statement signed by Buokoribo, disowned Kpodoh and frowned at attempts to link him to APC.
Buokoribo said: “While we wholeheartedly welcome his trial in a court of law for his alleged crime, we condemn the conscious or unconscious attempt to link our party with Kpodoh.
“He is not one of us. Kpodoh has not been our party member,” Buokoribo insisted, adding that Kpodoh worked for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and claimed to be a member of the party.
He alleged that Kpodoh, with solid support from the PDP, launched a serial campaign of calumny against the state leader of APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, wondering when his relationship with the PDP came to an end.
“However, we know Kpodoh for his monstrous cruelty and notoriety. We are not surprised that at long last, he is having his day in court for the crime of rape. We challenge him to clear his name.
“The charge of rape against Kpodoh has nothing to do with the APC. We are a party of responsible people. We are determined to work for a greater Bayelsa State that will guarantee progress and prosperity for all in Bayelsans,” he stated.