Idumuje-Ugboko Crisis: Mbanefo Nwoko Arraigned In Court On 10 Count Charges
Prince Mbanefo Felix Nwoko, a lawyer has been arraigned today, at the Chief Magistrate Court 1, Asaba, Delta State in a case bordering on conspiracy and forgery.
The Count Charges in number (CMA/420C/2017), having the Commissioner of Police as complainant and Nwoko Mbanefo Felix as accused person was read to him which he understood but pleaded not guilty.
gathered the First Count Charge read, “That you, Nwoko Mbanefo Felix ‘M’ and others now at large on or before the 31st day of May, 2017 at Asaba in the Asaba Magisterial District did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: Forgery and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516A of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C21 Vol. 1 Laws of Delta State of Nigeria 2006.
The other count charges comprise of a forged Hospital Management Board Owa-Oyibu letter head submitted to Chief Magistrate Court 1 Asaba; forged signature of Dr. P.A. Onyema, the Medical Director of Hospital Management Board, Owa-Oyibu; using the forged letter as evidence of ill health in court; falsely representing himself as Dr. P.A. Onyema; using the forged document intentionally to defraud and without any lawful authority; unlawfully signed the Medical Report/Excuse Duty of Hospital Management Board, Owa-Oyibu; knowingly made use of the fabricated Medical certificate of ill health; knowingly gave false testimony that his elder brother named Nwoko Oreze Nonso Justin was ill and of course intentionally submitted such a forged medical report at Chief Magistrate Court 1 sitting at Asaba on the 31st day of May, 2017 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 126(1) of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C21 Vol. 1 Law of Delta State of Nigeria 2006.
In response to the charges, the Defence Counsel, P.C. Dunkwu Esq. and others asked the court to grant their client bail on self recognition as a legal practitioner spanning about 32 years, adding that the charge outgrows as a result of the accused performing his professional duties.
But raising an objection to the bail application, the Prosecuting Counsel, Barr. Richard Isiguzor predicated his argument on the fact that the accused person may jump bail. He gave an evidence on how the Chief Magistrate Court issued a bench warrant on the accused person based on the forgery and he went into hiding until the police tracked him to Auchi in Edo State and subsequently arrested him. He cited relevant sections of the law to buttress his argument.
Barr. Richard Isiguzor further furnished the court with grounds of his objection, adding that based on Section 118, Sub-section 2 of the Criminal Proceeding on Felony and by virtue of Section 210, Cap 2 of Delta State Criminal Code, the accused would not only jump bail, but would influence the course of justice, might suppress evidence that may incriminate him; thereby pleading that the court should allow first for the investigation to be completed.
Making a further plea, the Defence Counsel, P.C. Dunkwu stressed that in any case bail is contractual; stating that if the accused jumped bail, it means there is something more to it. He then assured the court that based on 32 years experience in the practice of law, his client would not jump bail.
Giving a prelude to her ruling, the trial Chief Magistrate A.N. Okonkwo Akalume based her ruling in the interest of Justice. She said she would not gain anything keeping a Legal Practitioner in Prison custody who should be granted bail based on self recognition.
She then granted the accused person, Barr. Mbanefo Felix Nwoko bail in the sum of N200,000.00 with a shortee in like sum, who should be a land owner, a resident within Asaba Magisterial District and should produce two passport photographs.
Chief Magistrate Akalume however adjourned sitting to 12th September, 2017 for definite hearing on the case.