15 including Four Kings arrested over stolen INEC permanent voters’ cards

Four traditional rulers and 11 others have been arraigned by Kogi State Police Command for allegedly carting away some permanent voter’s cards being distributed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kogi State.
The traditional rulers are Mallam Ibrahim Mamud, the Okatama of Jamata and a third class chief, Alhaji Jubril Idris, the Ogidiga of Ohono, Mallam Musa Abu, the Ohiho of Iziho and Mallam Shaibu Momoh, the Ohiho of Gbaude.

Also arraigned were Musa Adekeke, Musa Amodu, Gambo Audu, Yakubu Alli, Salisu Musa, among others.

The suspects were arrested variously at the weekend and arraigned yesterday before a Chief Magistrates Court.

According to the police First Information Report, the traditional rulers were charged with trying to truncate the 2015 general elections, criminal conspiracy, screening offender, and theft contrary to Section 97(e), 167, 287 of the Penal Code Law.

When the case came up for mention, the prosecution said one Buki Ezekiel of the B Police Division, Lokoja reported that the suspects attacked one INEC official, Onwajeheri Gabriel, who was issuing permanent voter’s cards to members of the public at Ijiho Primary School.

He alleged that the suspects in their bid to truncate the forthcoming general elections conspired and forcefully carted away a carton containing some permanent voter’s cards

He said about 433 cards were later recovered by the police from the accused persons while 535 cards were still missing. The prosecution said due to the weight of the alleged offence and the fact that police had not concluded investigations, the accused persons should be remanded in prison custody.

All the 15 accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the crime. Counsel to the accused persons, Moses Enwerem, who led three others to appear for the 1st- 6th accused persons and M. J. Samuel, who led one other for the 7th- 15th accused persons, opposed the submission of the prosecution, saying the offence was bailable. Samuel said the traditional rulers were only arrested when they volunteered to make peace in their respective domains.

He said they were at home as at the time the incident happened and that they retrieved the stolen voter’s cards from their subjects who ran away with the carton of cards. The councel said the councillor among the accused persons also came at the instance of the traditional rulers. whom he came to bail but was also detained.

Pleading for the bail of the accused persons, he described the traditional rulers as men of honour, who would not abdicate their thrones in a bid to jump bail.

The Chief Magistrate, Levi Animaku, in his ruling granted the accused bail in the sum of N30,000 with a surety in the like sum and adjourned the case till June 23.

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