An Imo State High Court presided over by Justice Benjamin C. Iheka yesterday, discharged and acquitted 73 persons accused in suit number HOW/166C/2018, of “conspiracy and unlawful possession of firearm, contrary to Section 6(b) (a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Laws of the Federation 2004, as applicable in Imo State “.
The same suspects were also charged for armed robbery and membership of secret cults in suit number HOW/167C/2018.
The suspects charged to court included Egwim Chinenye, Godspower Kinagbara, Bright Osita Ezihe, Benjamin Nyeohia, John Chiamaka, Miriam Frank and 67 others.
According to Justice Iheka, when the two charges came up on November 13, 2018, they were consolidated for disposal in a single proceedings, on an unopposed application of the Defence Counsel, Mr. G. O. Tamuno.
While recalling that before closing it’s case, the prosecution called evidence of two persons, Sergeant Dimkpa Michael and Corporal Nwagbo Patrick, the Court also recalled that the Defence Counsel elected to make a no case submission.
Delivering his judgment yesterday, Justice Iheka held that the evidence adduced by the prosecution did not link the accused persons to the offences charged and that none of the ingredients of the offences charged, was proved by the evidence of the prosecution.
Iheka also held that since the Prosecuting Counsel conceded to the Defence Counsel’s no case submission, in respect of the charge of armed robbery, being the only charge in suit number HOW/167C/2018, the matter was thrown out.
On the issue of illegal possession of firearms, the judge held that the alleged recovery of two pistols in two vehicles, was not linked to any of the accused persons.
“Again, while the first prosecution witness testified that the firearms were recovered in a search conducted at the Police Headquarters, where the people intercepted were taken to after their arrest at Bank Road Owerri, the second prosecution witness said that the search was conducted at the point of arrest and the two pistols were recovered.
“This conflict in the evidence of the two witnesses, on the material fact of the alleged recovery of firearms is very fundamental and fatal to the case of the prosecution”, Justice Iheka said.
The Court then held that “on the evidence of the prosecution before me, I hold that the prosecution failed to make out a case to lead the accused with criminal answerability to the charges against them in this case”.
While agreeing with the Defence Counsel in his no case submission, Justice Iheka also said: “I therefore find each of the accused persons not guilty of the offences charged, and I hereby discharge and acquit each of them accordingly.”