A Magistrate Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged 35 Biafra agitators charged with conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, for want of diligent prosecution. The accused were arrested on Jan. 20 during a march to commemorate the inauguration of United States of America President, Mr Donald Trump.
Discharging the accused persons on Friday, the Magistrate, Mr Andrew Jaja, said treasonable felony was a capital offence, punishable by death.According to the magistrate, the court had the constitutional power to discharge the accused persons on ground of lack of diligent prosecution.
Jaja said that the accused had stayed 37 days in prison custody without the commissioner of police, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Attorney-General (AG) showing interest in the prosecution.
He said that the DPP, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Police did not indicate that there was prime facie to qualify the accused for prosecution or otherwise. Jaja lamented that the court had adjourned many times to enable the three authorities make inputs or show that the accused were liable to prosecution, but to no avail.
“The court has the right to grant them bail; “The adjournment has elapsed, without the State Commissioner of police and AG making their inputs into the matter. “The court has the right (power) to grant the accused persons bail or discharge them in line with the constitution”, he said.
The magistrate, however, warned the accused to remain peaceful and desist from embarking on further protest. Jaja said that they would not find it easy next time they were brought to court on the same charge. There was jubilation outside the court by the relations and friends of the discharged persons.