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Drama, as suspect collapses in court over verdict

THERE was pandemonium weekend when a suspect, one Smart Etiemor, collapsed on hearing court’s pronouncement at the Chief Magistrate Court, Warri, that he should be remanded in Okere Prison in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Etiemor was arraigned alongside, one Robinson Dagbolo before Chief Magistrate C I Moeteke who ordered the suspects to be remanded at the Okere prison while pending legal advice from the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The two suspects, it will be recalled, were docked for allegedly petitioning the founder of one New Salvation Church of Christ, Bishop Sunny Jero.

The duo falsely accused Bishop Jero of shady deals including sponsoring the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), human trafficking, gun-running and other criminal activities despicable of a man of God.

They had intimated operatives of the Nigeria Police who had immediately swung into action only to find nothing incriminating in the home and church premises of the cleric.

The suspects, who are in their middle age, were arraigned on a one-count charge of false accusation, an offence punishable under Section 125 of the Criminal Code Cap c21 of Delta.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge, but the magistrate rejected their plea saying that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Magistrate Moeteke, however, adjourned the case till August 18 for mentioning.
The prosecution counsel, ASP Sunny Irabor, earlier, had informed the court that the suspects allegedly petitioned the complainant on July 14, 2016 over human trafficking, gun-running and sponsoring the Avengers.

He said that after obtaining a search warrant, the police combed the church and private residence of the Bishop in Warri alongside the suspects, but nothing incriminating was found.

According to him, the complainant (Jero ) had to re-arrest the suspects for false accusation.

Jero, after the court session, said that he and the suspects were from Ogbinbri community in Egbema clan in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State, wondering what would have warranted the false accusation.

According to him, “They wrote a petition against me and police come to search my church and house in the presence of the suspects and nothing incriminating was found, then I was granted bail.

“I have to write a petition against them through my lawyer for arresting me illegally, that is why they were arraigned today.

“I am innocent, I have nothing to do with the Avengers,” the cleric reiterated.

Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Celestina Kalu, had earlier, in a statement from the Delta State Police Command, refuted the allegations after operatives of the command had verified the claims.

She warned members of the public and criminally-minded individuals to eschew blackmail and false accusation, saying the police would not take it lightly with suspects caught in these vices in the state.