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Lawyers, youth groups berate CSOs seeking release of suspects on murder trial in Enugu

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Lawyers in Aku, Igbo-Etiti local council of Enugu State, yesterday dismissed as “diversionary and hypocritical” the ultimatum issued by the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in the state on the state government to withdraw the murder charge against some staff of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

Three senior staff of the hospital have been detained in Enugu prison since last year over the brutal murder of the head of Nursing Services of the hospital, Dr Mrs Maria Amadi. Amadi met her untimely death in March last year in front of her residence on her way from work.

Her death led to the arrest and detention of three senior staff of the hospital said to have been mentioned by the deceased before she passed on at the hospital.

But a coalition of CSOs in the state in a statement by their Coordinator, Onyebuchi Igboke, last Thursday issued a 14-day ultimatum to the state government to withdraw the matter in court and release the three accused persons or face protest.

The CSOs said their call was hinged on an alleged confessional statement by some persons arrested by the police over the crime.

Addressing a press conference on the development in Enugu yesterday, Aku lawyers on the aegis of AkuDiewa Lawyers’ Forum (ADLAF), described the position of the group as misleading.

National Chairman of ADLAF, Ozor Ochiagha, said it was unfortunate that CSOs that were supposed to be champions of constitutionalism, rule of law and fair hearing made themselves willing tools for cheap blackmail in the matter that should be subjudice.

Ochiagha said: “It is on record that after the gruesome murder of Dr Mrs Maria Amadi, members of Enugu branch of National Association of Nurses and Midwives and health workers of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu took to the streets of Enugu and the Lion Building demanding that her killers must be brought to book. Afterwards, the leadership of Aku General Assembly petitioned the IGP demanding justice on the murder of their daughter, sister, and mother, Mrs Amadi.

“The IGP sent a team of IRT personnel that investigated the matter and submitted its report. The matter was later charged to court and trial has been ongoing to date. We ask why the sudden diversionary ultimatum by the so-called civil society groups to Enugu State government? What has the trial of key suspects in a murder case got to do with the Enugu State government when the matter is already being tried in court? The ultimatum by the CSOs to Enugu government on this matter is ridiculous, pure blackmail and an attempt to truncate justice. It is a clear case of the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.”

Explaining that Enugu State government had nothing to do with the matter, the lawyers urged the public to discountenance the news. They emphasised that the bail applications for the accused persons were argued last year and the trial court refused their prayers on the ground that “there is prima facie case for the accused persons to answer.”

A coalition of youth organisations in Enugu State under the auspices of Enugu Youth Coalition for Good Governance also berated CSOs in the state for giving the state government a 14-day ultimatum to release the three suspects in the murder case.

A statement yesterday by the Coordinator of National Youth Council of Nigeria, Enugu State Chapter, Paschal Ugwu, described the ultimatum to the state government as baseless, diversionary and mere shadow chasing. The youth warned the purported CSOs to respect the rule of law and allow justice to take its course, adding that any attempt to divert attention and mischievously ridicule the state government’s commitment to justice would be firmly resisted.

“Enugu youths view this latest show of shame by this concocted coalition of CSOs being mischievously propelled by one Igboke Onyebuchi as a charade and a diversionary measure to evade justice; we cannot allow this to happen.
 
“We, therefore, warn the originators of this baseless ultimatum to allow justice to take its course and stop bringing Enugu State government into this matter as it is neither the judiciary nor the police that is prosecuting the murder case in a competent court of law. We urge the state government to remain focused and undaunted in its resolve to support and promote the course of justice in Enugu State.”


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