Court remands PDP National Youth leader over alleged sedition against Kogi government
A Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court has remanded the PDP National Youth Coordinator, Mr Austin Okai, 35, in police custody for alleged sedition and blackmail against Governor Yahaya Bello and his cabinet.
Chief Magistrate, Levi Animoku in his ruling on arraignment of the Youth leader on Tuesday in Lokoja indicated that the offences brought against the accused as contained in the Penal Code were triable by his court with exception to that of sedition.
Animoku held that only the High Court had jurisdiction to try the offence of sedition under section 416 of the Penal Code in spite of the penalty of seven years it carries upon conviction.
In his words,
“The content of the First Information Report (FIR) touches on the state and the public. For now, I intend to tread softly on the issue of bail of the accused. This will enable the prosecution to conclude their investigation”,
The Chief Magistrate turned down the bail application and ordered that the accused to be kept in police custody, as he adjourned the case to April 13, for mention.
Okai was arraigned on a four-count charge including: inciting disturbance, criminal defamation, causing disappearance of evidence and sedition- inciting disaffection to the government of Kogi State.
The offences, are contrary to sections 104, 392, 416 and 167 of the penal code law the prosecuting police officer, Gabriel Otowu (ASP), stated.
Otowu told the court that on the 7th of April, at about 11:30 am, one commodore Jerry Omodara (rtd), Security Adviser to Governor Yahaya Bello, complained to Commissioner of Police of the state command that Okai made out some inciting on-line publications.
He said that the publications were false adding that they blackmailed the governor and his entire cabinet.
Continuing he said accused was bent on causing disaffection and acrimony between the citizens of the state and the government.
Otowu further alleged that Okai also issued a false publication labeling the governor as a “disaster and pain to the state”, adding that it was also revealed that Okai orchestrated the false publication of the governor’s recent death rumour.
The prosecution also alleged that the accused, in collaboration with some criminal elements in the state, recruited some like-minded youths eith plan to burn down Kogi State Revenue House on the one-year anniversary of the government though the plan was aborted.
He further alleged that while investigations were going on, the accused caused the disappearance of gadgets such as handsets, IPAD, Laptop “which he used in his propaganda and false publications” against the governor.
Otowu reminded the court that it had no power to try the offence of sedition as he opposed granting of bail saying that investigation was ongoing aside the fear that since the offence was a serious one, the accused might elope justice.
Williams Aliwo, counsel to the accused had earlier applied for the bail of his client in line with Section 36(5) and 35(4) of the constitution as well as section 341(2,3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC)
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