A Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, has freed 35 pro-Biafra agitators who were charged by the Nigerian Police with conspiracy to commit treasonable felony.
The accused persons were arrested on January 20 as they march to celebrate the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Delivering his judgement on Friday, the Magistrate, Andrew Jaja, noted that treasonable felony was a capital offence, punishable by death, but added that the court had the constitutional power to discharge the accused persons on grounds of lack of diligent prosecution.
Jaja pointed out that the defendants had stayed 37 days in prison custody but the State’s Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, and the State’s Attorney-General, AG, had shown no interest in the prosecution.
He also said that the DPP, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Police did not indicate that there was prima facie evidence to qualify the accused for prosecution or otherwise.
The Magistrate said that the case had been adjourned many times so that the three authorities could make inputs or show that the accused were liable to prosecution, but to no avail.
“The court has the right to grant them bail; the adjournment has elapsed,without the state Commissioner of police and AG making their inputs into the matter.
“The court has the right to grant the accused persons bail or discharge them in line with the constitution,” he said.
He however warned the accused persons to remain peaceful and desist from embarking on further protests, adding that they might not find it easy if they were brought to court again on the same charge.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN reports that there was jubilation outside the court by relations and friends following the discharged of the accused persons.