There was mild drama at the Federal High Court, in Benin, on Thursday, as trial Judge ordered accused couple to produce a member of Benin royal family to prove their royality, or be remanded in prison custody.
The accused, Prince Peter Eweka and his wife, Stella, were arraigned before Justice A. A. Demi-Ajayi, on a four-count charge, bordering on conspiracy to obtain money under false pretence.
The were alleged to have obtained the sum of N3m, from one Mrs. Juliet Aimienrovbiye by false pretence, stealing and converting the money for personal use and converting another N200,000 for personal use.
The accused couple however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following their not guilty plea, counsel to the petitioner, Mr F. B. Ojiezele, requested for trial to commence immediately.
Counsel to the defendants, Zion Agbon, however objected to the commencement of trial on the ground that his client had began and out-of-court settlement of the said amount.
He told the court that the couple had already made two payments and May 31 was the next date for another payment.
At this information, Justice A. A. Demi-Ajayi, questioned why the case should go on trial if settlement had started.
Counsel to the petitioner however told the court that his client did not inform him on the development.
Ojiezele nonetheless called for the remand of the accused persons in prison custody pending full payment and the determination of the substantive suit.
Agbon, however objected to the prison remand, saying that it would impede his clients’ ability to make payment the next day.
He also informed the court that the wife was a nursing mother of a sickle cell baby.
In determining the bail application, the Judge requested to know if the accused was of the royal family, noting that the name, Prince Eweka, rang a royal inclination.
Following affirmation by the accused of his royality, Judge Demi-Ajayi directed that suspects to produce a member of the royal family before the end of the day’s sitting to identify them in the presence of the assistant regustrar of the court and in company of both counsel.
He said failing to produce they would be remanded in prison custody till June 13, 2019 for commencement of trial.
A member of Benin royal family produced by the accused persons was rejected by the court registrar and counsel to the petitioner.
As at the time of filing this report, the accused persons were still to meet the bail condition.