State High Court begins trial for ex-soldiers, 10 others for alleged robbery

State High Court begins trial for ex-soldiers, 10 others for alleged robbery

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has begun a trial of three soldiers and 10 others over alleged armed robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property.

The suspects were arraigned by the Nigeria Police Force on charges of armed robbery, burglary and receipt of stolen property.

 

The Rivers State Police Command had in a statement by its spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, on May 27, 2024, said it arrested the 13 suspects, including the soldiers for alleged armed robbery, hijacking of food trucks and diverting them to other locations.

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The police said among those also arrested in the criminal act was a member of the syndicate and operative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

 

Iringe-Koko said the feat followed a thorough investigation after the policemen made an initial arrest for suspected burglary in a private warehouse in Elimgbu community in Ohio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

The state police image maker further said following the development, the Nigerian Army dismissed the soldiers.

 

At the hearing on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel, a legal officer with the Nigerian Police Force, F. D Sokari, representing the Inspection General of Police presented their first witness, Emmanuel Nwogu, who testified and gave consent for the extrajudicial statement he made to the police to be tendered and admitted as exhibit.

The defence counsel, Monday Stephen-Akpekon, however, objected, noting that the written statement on oath of the complainant, which is a fundamental document, hadn’t been served on them.

Following the objections, a motion for adjournment was moved by the prosecution counsel.

 

The Presiding Judge, Justice G. O Ollor, directed the prosecuting counsel to make the necessary documents available before the court by the next hearing.

Ollor adjourned the matter to July 17, 2024, for the continuation of the hearing.

 

Speaking to our correspondent outside the courtroom, counsel for the first defendant, Monday Stephen-Akpekon, maintained that his client, West Isaac, was innocent, as he faulted the Nigerian Army for relieving him of his duties without proper investigation.

State High Court begins trial for ex-soldiers, 10 others for alleged robbery
State High Court begins trial for ex-soldiers, 10 others for alleged robbery

Stephen-Akpekon said, “He (West Isaac) used to be a soldier and he was sick from the North-East where he was fighting Boko Haram and he was given a pass to go home from treatment.

“He got to Port Harcourt only for them to allege that they were armed robbers, whereas he was not caught with any gun.

“The matter is before the court and he has no arms and the army did not even do a proper investigation. What they did was a media trial.

“After the police arrested them, detained them, maltreated them, returned them to the Amy, which just dismissed them and sent them back without doing proper investigation.”

 

On his part, the prosecuting counsel, F. D. Sokari, noted that the case involved 13 suspects, but one was struck off on health grounds, even as he expressed optimism that the prosecution is making progress.

“It is a case of armed robbery, burglary and receiving stolen property. We opened our case today by fielding our PW1. PW1 testified and the extrajudicial statement he made to the police was to be rendered and admitted as exhibit A and the court adjourned the case toJuly 17, 2024, October 2 and 16, 2024 for further proceedings in this case, to be precise, cross-examination of PW1.

“There are 12 persons on the charge sheet now. Initially, we charged 13 persons but one of them fell ill to the point of death and his name was struck out to enable him to go and receive treatment.

“So, there are 12 of them standing trial now. We have opened our case and we are making progress.”

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