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An Enugu Magistrate Court, on Thursday, remanded a traditional ruler, Igwe Herbert Ukuta, and four others in prison for alleged murder and being members of a terrorist group.

Igwe Ukuta is the traditional ruler of Igga community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area if Enugu State and has been in the custody of the police alongside the four other suspects.

A statement by the spokesperson of Enugu police command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, said the “five male suspects, comprising HRH Herbert Ukuta, the traditional ruler of Igga community, Festus Okonkwo, Ofodile Titus Henry, Sunday Ugwu and Obinna Ayogu, were arrested for masterminding the unprovoked and unwarranted attack and gruesome murder of two (2) policemen and three (3) neighbourhood watch group members, in the evening hours of Friday, May 3, 2024, at Igga community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.”

They were arraigned by the Enugu State Police Command on a 10-count charge bothering on conspiracy, terrorism, and murder before an Enugu North Magistrate Court 1.

In Charge No. MEN/320c/2024, between the commissioner of police (Kanayo Uzuegbu) and Igwe Herbert Ukuta (62); Festus Okonkwo (62); Ofadile Titus Henry (39); Sunday Ugwu (26) and Obinna Ayogu (54), the community leaders were accused of conspiracy, being members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and its security wing, Eastern Security Network (ESN); murder of five persons, including two policemen; and being a member of a terrorist group.

The police said the offences allegedly committed by the defendants are contrary to Section 26(1) and punishable under Section 25(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 and Section 516(A) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Some of the charges read, “That you, HRM Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’; Festus Okonkwa ‘m’; Ofadile Titus Henry ‘m’; Sunday Ugwu ‘m’; Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the day of May, 2024, at about 1315 hours along Adarice Farm Road, Adarice in Uzo-Uwani Magisterial District holden in Enugu, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit Membership of a Terrorist Group and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 26(1) and punishable under Section 25(3) and Section 18 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022.

“That you, HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’ and Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ on the same date, time, and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu, did recruit Festus Okonkwa ‘m’; Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’; Sunday Ugwu ‘m’ and others now at large into the membership and activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN), which is a proscribed terrorist group by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 18 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022.

“That you, HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’ and Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ on the same date, time, and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District held in Enugu, knowingly engaged in the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network within the Igga Community and Adarice Farm Settlement, concealed and failed to report the same to the law enforcement agencies, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16(1)(a) and (b) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022.

“That you, HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta’m’; Festus Okonkwo ‘m’; Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’; Sunday Ugwu ‘m’; Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 3rd day of May, 2024, at about 13:15 hours along Adarice Farm Road, Adarice in Uzo-Uwani Magisterial District holden in Enugu, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: murder and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516(A) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you, HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’, Festus Okonkwo ‘m’, Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’, Sunday Ugwu ‘m’, Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu did unlawfully kill Police Inspector Nwoga Cornellus ‘m’ by shooting him with a gun, which led to his death and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 316(1) and punishable under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’, Festus Okonkwo ‘m’, Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’, Sunday Ugwu ‘m’, Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu did unlawfully kill Police Constable Ikowa Anthony ‘m’ by shooting him with a gun, which led to his death and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 316(1) and punishable under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’, Festus Okonkwo ‘m’, Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’, Sunday Ugwu ‘m’, Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu did unlawfully kill Emegoni Aloysius ‘m’ by shooting him with a gun, which led to his death and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 316(1) and punishable under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’, Festus Okonkw ‘m’, Ofodile Titus Henry ‘m’, Sunday Ugwu ‘m’, Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu did unlawfully kill Adada Joshua ‘m’ by shooting him with a gun, which led to his death and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 316(1) and punishable under section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“That you, HRH Igwe Herbert Ukuta ‘m’, Festus Okonkwo Titus Henry”, Sunday Ugwu ‘m’, Obinna Ayogu ‘m’ and others now at large on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District holden in Enugu did unlawfully kill Eze Fidelis ‘m’ by shooting him with a gun, which led to his death and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 316(1) and punishable under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

When the charges were read to them, they did not make any pleas, as the magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the case as the charges were brought under the federal act.

All the accused were subsequently ordered to be remanded at Enugu Correctional Centre.

Ndukwe in the statement, said  the Commissioner of Police, CP Kanayo Uzuegbu, psc (+), has “reiterated the resolve of the Command to bring everyone involved in the senseless act to justice.

“He cautions those hell-bent on using social media and insidious and clout-chasing online media publishers to publish falsehoods, in a bid to divert public attention from the mind-boggling issues in the case, to desist forthwith. He warns that the command will not be deterred or distracted from getting to the root of the ugly by such unfounded media smear campaigns.”

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