A Yenagoa Magistrate’s Court in Bayelsa State has freed 44 detained members of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
The Presiding Magistrate, Penawei Mukoro, on Tuesday, dismissed the three counts of conspiracy, breach of public peace and unlawful gathering levelled against them (suspects) by the police.
The magistrate, who noted that the case against the detained 44 IPOB members had a ‘no-case submission’, subsequently discharged and acquitted the accused persons.
The 44 IPOB members were arrested in October 2016 while meeting at a popular bar/lounge in Okaka area of Yenagoa, the state capital, by operatives of the Joint Military Task Force, codenamed Operation Delta Safe.
The suspects were later handed over to the police authorities for investigation and prosecution.
But the counsel for the IPOB members, Mr. Kingsley Nwosu, had argued a ‘no-case submission’ before the court, describing the arrest and trial of his clients as a deliberate attempt to intimidate and violate the fundamental rights of people to freedom of assembly.
Nwosu said the prosecution, the Nigeria Police, failed to produce a credible witness to substantiate the three counts against the IPOB members.
He said, “It is a case where there is a serious intimidation. And the prosecution could not produce credible witness,” he had told the court.
Delivering ruling on Tuesday, Magistrate Penawei Mukoro, struck out the case and discharged and acquitted the accused persons.
Mukoro held that all the accused persons had no case to answer as the prosecution was unable to institute a prima facie case against them.