A magistrate’s Court 1 sitting in Owerri, yesterday, declined the bail application for an Imo State lawmaker, Hercules Okoro, who was arrested, detained, and arraigned for alleged assault on Deputy Speaker of the House, Amara Iwuanyanwu.
Okoro, who represents Ohaji-Egbema constituency in the legislature, was charged along with four others, Sunday Ambition, Cosmos Opara, Hillary Kingsley, and Azim Reginald, on an eight-count charge bordering on assault and breach of public peace.
According to the prosecuting counsel, T. O. B. Okey, “the charges are punishable under the relevant criminal laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria applicable in Imo State.”
This was after he opposed the bail request put forth by defence lawyer, Calistus Osundu, arguing that “the high rate of violence in the state should be tamed irrespective of how highly placed the affected individual.”
The prosecution also accused Okoro of conspiring with the quartet to “attack, assault and cause serious injuries on number four citizen of the state, who represents Nwangele in the Assembly.”
Okey claimed that the defendants hit his client with a machete and injured him in the shoulder.
But the defence counsel, Osundu, maintained that the charges were bailable.
Following the ensuing argument, the presiding magistrate, Okoroji O. D., ruled that the parties should address the court in writing.
She thereafter adjourned the matter to Wednesday, November 18, 2020, for ruling on the bail application, while ordering that the accused be reminded at the correctional facility in Owerri.
The legislature had on Friday impeached Dr. Chiji Collins as a speaker and replaced him with Mr. Paul Emeziem
The detained lawmaker, during the courtesy visit by the new team to Governor Hope Uzodimma at Government House, allegedly had altercations with the deputy speaker, leading to fisticuffs.
IN the meantime, Patrons Association of Imo Oil Producing Communities (PIOPC) has urged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to ensure Okoro’s immediate release.
Its Chairman, Chief David Mbachu, in a statement yesterday, said the urgent appeal was to forestall breakdown of law and order in the state in the wake of the 48-hour ultimatum the body issued in respect of the matter.
PIOPC stated that it was worried that Okoro, who was elected on the platform of Action Alliance (AA) before joining the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the hallowed chamber, was “arrested on trumped-up charges of being a close ally to the immediate past speaker, Dr. Chiji Collins, who was impeached on Friday.”
The association vowed to use all legal means possible to affect the legislator’s freedom.
The statement read in part: “On Saturday, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Imo on New and Electronic Media, Mrs. Nneamaka Okafor, confirmed the arrest of Okoro, saying the incarcerated lawmaker was arrested by the police for fighting within Government House premises, and he is in police custody but not detained by the governor.”