From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A Magistrate Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has struck out the criminal charges against the four auto mechanics in Ikoku, who have been under detention at the Nigerian Correctional Service.
The trial Chief Magistrate, Amadi Nna Amadi, also discharged and acquitted the four persons following the report of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), which revealed that the accused persons have no case to answer.
Nna ruled that the DPP report revealed that the charges against the Ikoku 4 by the police were unfounded and should not have come up in the first place.
The DPP, Ibiene Mbano, in an interview with journalists shortly after the verdict, disclosed that the charges against the suspects were mere suspicion.
Mbano explained: “The charges against the suspects were based on suspicion and unfounded. It is not a matter that we would be able to prosecute.
“As a result of that, we have decided to discharge him in our legal advice. That is the position of the prosecution”, she stated.
Counsel for the accused, Morrison Opue, who also spoke with newsmen, said the defendants were left with options to either sue the police, or the officers that inflicted the injuries on them, for fundamental human rights.
Opue expressed: “The defendants popularly known as the ‘Ikoku 4’, were today, discharged by the court. Reason being that the DPP’s advice exonerated all of them.
“It shows that, the offence in which they were charged were never committed by them.
“The police just brutalized the popularly known Ikoku 4. And today, justice has taken its cause. A Daniel has come to judgement.
“I want to say that no evil deeds can go unpunished. If not redressed by man today, it would be redressed by God tomorrow”, he expressed.
It would be recalled that the four accused persons, who were arrested alongside late Chima Ikwunado, were earlier arraigned before a Magistrate court, which later declined jurisdiction and subsequently referred the case file to the DPP for legal advice.
Late Ikwunado and the four freed persons were arrested late December, 2019, by operatives of E-Crack Unit of Mile 1 Police Division, Port Harcourt.
Ikwunado reportedly died in Police custody of injuries allegedly inflicted on him by the operatives.
Since the death of Ikwunado, who was an auto mechanic at Ikoku mechanic village, there has been public outcry and protest by their colleagues.