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Imo monarch re-arraigned over alleged defamation, contempt of court

By Collins Osuji, Owerri
27 March 2022   |   2:49 am
A traditional ruler, Eze Peter Ezechikere Njemanze, has been re-arraigned at Owerri Chief Magistrate Court 2, Imo State, on a five-count charge bordering on alleged criminal defamation of character and contempt.

A traditional ruler, Eze Peter Ezechikere Njemanze, has been re-arraigned at Owerri Chief Magistrate Court 2, Imo State, on a five-count charge bordering on alleged criminal defamation of character and contempt.

The alleged charges in Suit No. OW/167c/2022, was signed by Donatus Iwu, Legal and Prosecution Unit, State Criminal Investigation Department, CID, Owerri.

It read: “That you, HRH Eze Peter Ezechikere Njemanze, on March 9, 2022, at Magistrate’s Court 2, Owerri, in Owerri Magisterial District, being the second defendant in charge number OW/612c/2021, did show an act of intentional disrespect to the court, by refusing to appear before the court to take your trial, without any reasonable excuse and thereby, committed an offence punishable under Section 133(9) of the Criminal Code Cap. C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.”

Soon after pleading not guilty to the charge, his defence counsel, Mr. Ohaeto Uwazie, told the court that his client’s absence from court, was entirely his fault, adding that it would not be fair to “visit the sin of counsel on the accused”.

He told the court that he had “a running stomach on the adjourned date” and could not get across to his client as a result of poor network by the service providers.

Making his own submission, the Police Prosecutor, Iwu, told the court: “It is not true that the defence counsel had a running stomach like he claimed because I saw him at Zone 9 Police Headquarters, Umuahia, on the said date he claimed he was sick. We exchanged pleasantries….”

“Following the bench warrant issued by this court, the police traced the accused to No.7, Ihenacho Street, Owerri, which he and his surety claimed to be their permanent address, but we were told that none of them resided in the house. I urge the court to revoke the bail earlier granted to the accused.”

Having listened to the presentations from both sides, the Chief Magistrate, Mrs. U. Adikaibe, agreed with the defence counsel that: “it would be wrong to visit the sin of counsel on the accused.”

Meanwhile, the monarch and two others, Ikenna Onuoha and Emmanuel Madumere, were immediately re-arraigned on a five-count charge of alleged conspiracy and defamation of character, vide suit number OW/60C/2022.

One of the charges read: “That you, Ikenna Onuoha, a columnist with Announcer Express Newspapers, HRH Eze Peter Ezechikere Njemanze and Emmanuel Madumere, the Weekend Announcer Editor, on June 5, 2020, at the same place, in the aforesaid Magisterial District, made defamatory publication in Announcer Express Newspapers that “Prince Bob Kay Njemanze is a bastard and fraudster, knowing same to be false, which is likely to injure his reputation, by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or likely to damage him in his profession or trade” and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 373 of the Criminal Code Cap, C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.”

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges and the matter was thereafter, adjourned to April 21, 2022, for hearing.