A social media critic and member of the Interim Caretaker Committee of the People’s Democratic Party, Ebonyi State Chapter, Chika Nwoba has been remanded in prison custody by an Abakaliki Magistrate Court.
Mr Nwoba, a former spokesperson of the party, was arraigned by the Police on Tuesday on a three-count charge following his arrest on Sunday.
His arrest followed a petition by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Ebonyi State, Mr Oguzor Offia-Nwali.
Mr Nwali had in a petition alleged that Mr Nwoba had in a series of posts he made on social media defamed him, threatened his life and falsely accused him of fraud and diversion of state government funds meant for the empowerment of hawkers.
Mr Nwoba was arraigned on three counts charge of threat to life, publication of false information and false allegation.
The charges read: “That you Nwoba Chika Nwoba ‘m’ and others now at large on the 6th day of February 2024 at Abakaliki within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Threat to Life, Publishing False Information and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516 A (a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 33 Vol. 1 Laws of the Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.
“That you Nwoba Chika Nwoba ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, place and in the aforementioned Magisterial District did threaten the life of Hon. Oguzorkanu Offia Nwali ‘m’ by the use of electronic gadgets and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 12(1) (b) of Ebonyi State Internal Security Enforcement and Related matters, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria,
“That you Nwoba Chika Nwoba ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, place and in the aforementioned Magisterial District did publish false information on your Facebook page accusing Hon. Oguzorkanu Offia Nwali ‘m’ a serving Commissioner in Ebonyi State Executive Council of Funds Diversion, a publication you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence under section 14 of Ebonyi State Internal Security Enforcement and Related matters, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009”.
After the charges were read to him, Mr Nwoba’s Lawyer, C N Ufufu made an oral bail application for his client.
While noting that the offences are bailable, the Lawyer also argued that the prosecution did not get the approval of the Attorney General to prosecute the matter in line with the stipulations in the Ebonyi State Internal Security Enforcement law under which he was being charged.
But Council to the Police, Eze Chinagorom opposed the bail application adding that the supreme court had already ruled that the Police officer does not need formal permission to prosecute a matter since the Police officer is representing the Attorney General.
Ruling on the matter, the Magistrate, Lilian Ogodo said the proper place to make the arguments is at the High Court since the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
She therefore remanded the accused at the Abakaliki Correctional Service and urged that the case file be transmitted to the Ministry of Justice for further action.
While advising the accused to file the bail application at the High Court, the Magistrate adjourned the matter to March 1st.