A Magistrate Court in Owerri, Imo State, on Thursday, remanded a former deputy governor of the state, Gerald Irona, in prison.
The Magistrate, C. N Ezerioha, after hearing the prosecution and defence counsels, ordered that Mr Irona be remanded in Owerri Correctional Centre, Punch newspaper reported.
S. I. Imo, counsel to the former deputy governor, had immediately after his arraignment, moved a motion that Mr Irona be granted bail on self-recognition.
Mr Imo said if Mr Irona could not be granted bail on self-recognition, a state lawmaker, Frank Ugboma, representing Oguta State constituency would be willing to take him on bail.
But the lead prosecutor, Sunday Ogbuji, opposed the bail application, arguing that the magistrate lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Mr Ogbuji said one of the charges preferred against Mr Irona was felony and that only a judge of a high court could grant Mr Irona bail.
However, after hearing from both parties, the magistrate ordered that the former deputy governor be remanded in prison, the Punch reported.
In her ruling, the magistrate agreed with the prosecution counsel that she lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter or grant the accused bail.
The judge while ordering that Mr Irona be remanded in Owerri Correctional Centre, said the prosecution counsel should make all documents available to the defence counsel to enable them take the next legal action.
She also ordered that the case file be transferred to the Department of Public Prosecution.
The three-count of the charges read “that you Hon. Gerald Irona sometime in January 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri Magistrate District, did conspire with others now at large, to commit felony to wit: treason and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 37(2) of the criminal code, cap c 38, law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.
“That you Hon. Gerald Irona sometime in January 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri Magistrate District, did make several utterances to the effect that you will make Imo State ungovernable and immediately afterwards hoodlums levied several attacks on Imo State with intent to intimidate or overawe the governor of Imo State and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 37 of the criminal code, cap, c 38, law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.
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“That you Hon. Gerald Irona on the 15th day of January, 2020, at Owerri in the Owerri Magistrate District, do convert to your own use two Land Cruiser Jeeps (V8 and V6) and one Toyota Hilux vehicle valued N493,000,000 property of Imo State Government thereby committed an offence punishable under section 390 ( 9) of the criminal code, cap c 38, laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, as applicable in Imo State.”
Speaking to reporters, shortly after the court session, one of the defence counsels, Kissinger Ikeokwu, expressed optimism that the former governor would be granted bail at a high court.
Mr Ikeokwu, who is also the legal adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, claimed that Mr Irona’s ordeal was “politically motivated.”
Mr Irona served as the deputy governor of the state between May 2019 and January 2020, when the Supreme Court ordered that Emeka Ihedioha be removed as the governor of the state and Hope Uzodinma be sworn in as the duly elected governor of the state.
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