N3bn Agric loan scandal: Former Dickson’s aide denied legal representation, remanded in prison

Former general manager of the state-owned Broadcasting Corporation, Glory FM, John Idumange have been dragged before a Magistrate Court sitting in Yenagoa by yet-to-be-identified security and remanded 30 days in prison for accusing the state government of embezzling a N3bn Central Bank of Nigeria agricultural loan.

It was learnt that Idumange was arrested at the gate of a popular radio station in Yenagoa where he was expected to speak on the disbursement formula of the loan and unveil names of beneficiaries, who he claimed diverted the funds for their personal use.

According to a summary of proceedings by counsel to the suspect, A.S. Arthur, made available to Tribune Online, Idumange was denied legal representation and was remanded over “charges which do not come within the powers of the court to remand being misdemeanours punishable to a term not exceeding two years.”

Parts of the summary read “in the matter of remand proceedings involving DR. JOHN IDUMANGE (Suspect) at about 3:20 pm on the 11th day of March 2021, the suspect, Dr. John Idumange case was called, the said Suspect entered into the dock, the learned magistrate Coram Mirinn-Johnson Tari, Esq. took appearances of counsel from both the prosecution and the defence.

“The Prosecution brought to the attention of the learned Magistrate of the application for remand proceedings of the suspect and prayed the court to remand the suspect pursuant to Section 266(9) of the Administration of Criminal Justice law of Bayelsa State, 2019, the prosecution informed court that the nature of the charges is as follows: Criminal Defamation, Breach of the Peace and Seditious publication.

“All charges which do not come within the powers of the court to remand being misdemeanours punishable to a term not exceeding two years. Upon the said application, learned counsel for the suspect, A.S. Arthur rose to inform the court that his appearance had been entered and that he is appearing for the suspect.

“The learned Magistrate said what is before it was a remand proceeding and it is a one-way affair for which learned counsel for the suspect does not have a right of audience, stated that the court entered his appearance in error.

“Whereupon, learned counsel for the suspect still urge the court that there is nothing in the entire gamut of Section 266 ACJL Bayelsa State prohibiting his right of audience and that fair hearing is a threshold in every proceeding and the said constitutional right ought not to be breached.

“The honourable magistrate still insisted that the learned counsel appearing for the suspect cannot appear and be heard and still insisted that the appearance was in error.

“Learned counsel for the suspect still went on to inform the learned magistrate that the matter for which the remand proceedings is being sought are offences which are misdemeanours with punishment not exceeding 2years at most and in fact is thus not seised of the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the application.

“Upon the insistence of the court that the suspect is not entitled to representation this led to a walk out of the defence team has sought and obtain the leave of court to so do. Thereupon the learned Magistrate went ahead and ordered the remand of the suspect for 30days at the first instance.”

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